I am simply a Christian, blessed with 62 years of life on this planet; shared with my wife of 36 years, Una, three wonderful children, and five grandchildren. God's word has been my guide for the past 35 years, and will carry me on through eternity!
There aren’t many celebration events in the Bible that we can relate to in 2020. We don’t read of birthday, wedding anniversary, independence day, Easter, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve celebrations. John offers an account of a celebration, a wedding feast, a worthy event. Marriage, an institution brought about by the Lord beginning with Adam and Eve and continuing today. However, this particular celebration claimed it’s notoriety when Jesus turns water into wine. He did this out of respect for his mother. Even though He didn’t want to do it, and He was no longer a child, He was obedient to His mother. Mary was confident that her son would obey. The parent child relationship modeled by Jesus and Mary demonstrates God’s intentions. “For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.” Matthew 15:4
Family is important to God. It is no accident that God is called our Father. We are His children. The church is the bride of Christ. When we interact with each other we would do well to ask ourselves if we would do the same to our heavenly family member. WWJD bracelets were quite common a few years ago. Asking this question when interacting with our parents, children, grandparents, etc. would make for happier families. Can you imagine being disrespectful to our heavenly Father? Would you treat your brother Jesus the same way? Our heavenly family members are faithful in their treatment of us. They are respectful, forgiving, loving, positive toward those who are in the family.
John the second chapter answers the question, “What would Jesus do?” When we engage with family members we can see what Jesus would do in His interactions with family. As we move into the new year let’s make a resolution to treat each other as Jesus would do. Happy New Year!
Out of all the New Testament writers John stands out in his understanding of God’s grace. The phrase “grace in place of grace” is the idea of ever flowing grace. That is, grace that never ends. John puts it another way in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” In the original language the word “confess” is in the past tense. Hence, when we confessed our sins in need of God’s forgiveness – an act that every believer did when making a commitment to the Lord. The rest of the verse carries a tense not found in the English language. It isn’t past, present, or future. Rather, it encompasses all three. In other words, it is an ever flowing tense, like a river that continues to move. When we receive the grace of God it doesn’t remain stagnant. By His love we are receiving the river of life! This is a river that flows in the fountain of life, and not just life here, but life eternal in heaven.
Jesus came in all His fullness, being completely God and completely man. Out of this fullness we come to know God. God who is loving. God who is not willing that any should perish. God who lived and lives among us guiding us into all righteousness. God who became the Lamb, sacrificed in order to cover our sins. Jesus died to set us free. He was raised to demonstrate God’s power over death. Through His death, burial, and resurrection “we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” Just as we vow to love and cherish our spouse through sickness and in health, forsaking all others, even through death, Jesus vows to do the same for every believer. We receive God’s mercy, even though we don’t deserve it. For, as the Apostle Paul writes, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We can only share in that glory through Jesus and His everflowing grace.
Dictionary definition of glory: something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration; a distinguished ornament or an object of pride. Jesus is truly a source of honor; honor not found in ourselves but Jesus being in and through us. Whatever recognition we may receive being rightfully ascribed to the Lord. If we are admired, hopefully that admiration comes from our living and loving as Jesus does; never being ashamed of our Lord, but wearing the name of Christ proudly.
As we go about living in this modern world that would spurn the name of Jesus and call His followers fanatics it is important that we love and live as Jesus did. It is by our love that they will know we are Christians. When love, unconditional love, is lived out it is very difficult for others to look or think negatively toward us. In fact, unconditional love is so attractive they will often be drawn to us, and through us to Christ.
It was unconditional love expressed through a young Christian couple that brought me out of open rebellion toward God, leading me to salvation through submission to the author of love – Jesus Christ. This changed my life in ways that can only come from an omnipotent God. I now have peace. I no longer fear death because I know that when this mortal shell dies I will simply go on living in the presence of the Lord having gained an incorruptible body and a home in heaven.
So, why am I not ashamed to be called a Christian? First, because He is not ashamed to call me His son. He has given me an abundant life, keeping me safe through all the storms of life, protecting and providing, causing all things to work for my good. Even in times of despair He is there, leading down a path that ends in greater blessings than I had imagined. I can say with all honesty that I have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son!
John is not setting the law apart from grace and truth. However, he is providing perspective on the manner in which each has entered the world. While the law came through the Word of God, it was delivered through a dramatic process involving fire and stone. The recipients were a specific people, a nation evolving from the father of faith. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3) Evolution is a process using mutation to bring about something new. Often the result is something very different from what it came from. This is what happened to the Israelites understanding of the law. Their understanding of the law provided through ten simple commandments had morphed into a 613 difficult and often confusing commandments. The law given through Moses had evolved to the point that made it impossible to accomplish. This was not only discouraging it completely removed the concept of grace and truth. The law had turned into a disastrous recipe for failure. Grace was foreign and truth was confusing.
Grace and truth also came through the Word of God. Instead of fire and stone they came through a natural process of conception and birth. Conception through the Holy Spirit and birth in a stable through a humble teenage girl. The recipients are all people from every nation. This becoming the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. Because of his faith he is the father of all nations, all who have been set free from the law. (Galatians 3:8; Genesis 17:5) Jesus, the Word, has brought God’s grace to all who believe and follow the truth delivered to Abraham and lived out in the life of Christ. He brought out the truth when he told the Samaritan woman, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24) As we worship in Spirit and in truth we are sure to discover Jesus in the Bible.