In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
The Word was with God in the beginning.
Everything came into being through the Word,
and without the Word
nothing came into being.
What came into being
through the Word was life,
and the life was the light for all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.
A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light.
The true light that shines on all people
was coming into the world. (Common English Bible)
Jesus lives here. And that’s because he chose to – so that we might have an abundant life out in the bright sunshine of grace.
The Word has always been and always will be. The Word decided to show up on this earth in an unexpected way, to bring light, illumination, and awareness to a dark world and the shadowy places of our hearts.
Frankly, my friends, Jesus abides with your every dream about life and happiness, hope and fulfillment, purpose and direction, emotional healing and wholeness. Christ is for you, to experience a thriving and flourishing daily life. And what’s more:
To live the Christian life, to center your entire life totally and completely around the person and work of Jesus Christ, is an act of rebellion against all that is dark, unjust, and broken in this world.
Jonathan Edwards, one of the greatest intellects in American history, was a pastor, theologian, and scholar. He insisted that the hope of humanity lies with turning to and dwelling with Jesus:
“Conversion to Jesus Christ is a great and glorious work of God’s power, at once changing the heart, and infusing life into the dead soul…. Jesus Christ is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper focus; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.”Jonathan Edwards
St. Augustine lived centuries ago. A big chunk of his life was apart from Christianity. He knew what it felt like to be without Jesus. Yet, after his conversion, life with Jesus was so compelling for Augustine, that his vigorous intellect and spiritual devotion were put to work, leaving an enormous footprint that can be found even today, in both the church and the academy.
Reflecting upon his life, and all he had experienced and accomplished, Augustine uttered this simple prayer to God:
Arguably, Christianity’s greatest convert was the Apostle Paul. Once a vehement opponent to Christ and Christ’s followers, Paul had a dramatic encounter that left him completely undone. He gave his life to Jesus and became Christianity’s most influential missionary. Here is a smattering of his thoughts on Jesus:
Though he [Christ] was in the form of God,
he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
by taking the form of a slave
and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8, CEB)
His glorious power will make you patient and strong enough to endure anything, and you will be truly happy… For God has rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son, who forgives our sins and sets us free. (Colossians 1:11, 13, CEV)
Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. (Philippians 3:8-9, CEV)
We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise… Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. (Romans 5:2, 6, MSG)
Jesus is the One who fills our hearts with love, delivers our wayward souls from emptiness, and sets our feet on the solid rock of faith and hope in God. The love of God is found in Jesus. And Jesus so closely identifies with us, that we enjoy God’s peace and healing in our lives. Not just personal transformation, but systemic change in institutions and corporations, families and neighborhoods, is possible in Christ.
To live for Jesus is an act of subversion against all that is evil, dark, and unjust. Imagine a world where love rules, not hate; where creativity and faith abound, and are not squelched; and, hope, not hurt, fuels progress into a bright future. It is a world where the light of Jesus brings life.
The God who said, “Out of darkness the light shall shine!” is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6, GNT)
I am grateful that God so loved the world, loved me and loved you, that he gave his one and only Son – the Sun of Righteousness for our benefit so that we might have life.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, all creatures here below
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.