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John 1:6-13, NIV
6There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
August 30, 2010 There was a man named John; we know him as the Baptist. No longer alive when this Gospel was written, yet he was still widely known and revered. Although he died young, he had left his mark. People knew his story, respected his integrity and fearlessness. He was a most credible witness; there was none greater than John to vouch for the authenticity of the Christ.John the Baptist was not the light, although he may have been tempted to think he was during the height of his popularity when crowds of people walked many miles out into the desert to hear him preach and be baptized by him. But through all the hoopla, John remained true to his purpose in life, which was to point people toward the true light that was coming into the world. When that Light came, the world--the one he was present with God and helped to create--failed to recognize him!
The fact is when he came to his own kind of people, they were not interested, even skeptical. We shouldn't be too surprised at that. How many of us are any good at recognizing the presence of God walking in our midst? How many of us care what God is doing in our world? Or make the effort to explore such possibilities? Like those people of old, we too fill our days with other things and sadly at times find darkness more appealing than light.
But here's the good news--all who received the light with open minds and hearts and believed with child-like trust, these are the ones he guided along the pathway toward becoming children of God! Born, not only to earthly parents, but more importantly, born of Almighty God! Completing the circle. Intentionally claiming and accepting the hand of their Maker. Alive not because of human sexual passion, but to fulfill the purposes of God. Belonging not to this earth, but to our loving heavenly Father.
More journal entries
October 26, 2001 "His own" are people who belong to God. Belonging is a basic human need. Children join gangs and people do both good and evil in order to fulfill the need to belong. The Gospels invite us to belong to Jesus and allow the Light to invade our darkness. Jesus, help me to live this day in the awareness that I belong to you. So that as the Light shines into my world, I will recognize and receive You.
October 27, 2001 Jesus did come, yet the world is still so dark. Look at the mess we are in! Bombs are dropping. Mail is powdered with anthrax or packed with explosives. People oppress, abuse and torture each other. We worry about our water and contaminants in our food supply.
Our world today sounds just as dark as John portrayed it in his day. Jesus comes to us, too, but we don't notice. Even "his own" neglect his presence and miss out. But all who do receive and believe, become God's children. Not because of words on our birth record. But by God's mercy and grace we receive the right, the ability, the possibility. Whether or not we become children in God's likeness is up to us. We have that option, the God-given power to do so. So go for it.
Oct 31, 2001 The true light. Does that mean there are false lights? The true light gives light to all. By the time John wrote this Gospel, the first generation of Christians had heard and witnessed things in the name of Christianity that did not ring true. The purity of the Gospel story was becoming contaminated. Several of the letters which complete the New Testament mention false teaching as a problem in the early church. Maybe that's why John wrote this Gospel, to tell the old, original story once again, about the true light that came to give light to all--men, women and children, from every nation and tribe, slave or free, rich or poor, saint and sinner.
Falsehoods abound in religion as in all of life. How should we decide to believe one thing over another? Most things we argue about in our places of worship don't matter. John in his Gospel tells us what does matter, beginning with the Light that came into the world, that great and wonderful gift of the Father that was not recognized, appreciated, accepted nor believed. But to those who do turn aside, like Moses at the burning bush, and recognize something of significance that needs further exploration-- to these God sets before them the possibility of becoming his true children.
In the next verses the Gospel writer makes it very clear that John the Baptist's recognition of Jesus as the promised Messiah, was not learned from any other man, but was revealed to him directly from God. What John the Baptist knew came from the primary Source. It was true.
February 25, 1982John the Baptist, a witness, sharing what he knew about the light. John was called to tell people about the light before the light appeared. We are called to witness two thousand years after that light appeared. We become light as we witness to the light. We share whatwe have known and experienced, how the light has made a difference in our lives.
February 26, 1982 The Baptist was not the star, he was the one who introduced the star. It's easy to get caught up in the charisma of a great witness, so John was careful to constantly point to Jesus. John set the stage, got people ready, got them thinking and expecting something good from God. He prepared the way and cultivated the soil so people would be receptive to the word, the life and the light.
February 27, 1982 The Gospel writer is gradually coming to the point that the light is Jesus. The light shines upon every one--interesting concept. What did he mean? Was he comparing Jesus to the sun which doesn't discriminate but in the orderly pattern of the universe, can be depended upon to give light to all?
I claim not to be able to understand the mind of God. I don't understand the mind of man either, nor my own. The attractiveness of evil is just as mysterious as the patience of God. Lust, gossip, laziness, dishonesty, behaving like God doesn't exist, are all examples. Like in over-eating, I know what is good for me, yet I settle on salt, sugar and fats. Why? Donuts, ice cream, potato chips--how good they taste--but it's a slow form of suicide.
People choose darkness, I choose darkness; that's so hard to understand logically. His light shines on me and on everyone else. If God is good and his life plan produces the positives which make our lives good, then why, in God's name, do we still embrace evil?
I need to change my way of thinking and stop thinking the bad stuff is good. As a Christian I'm destined to live well, to eat right, and walk in the way of God's kingdom. People need these positive messages otherwise we believe that human nature takes over and we are helpless to choose otherwise. I am not innately evil or bad; God created me good and in his own image. I don't belong to the lord of temptation; I belong to the Lord of life and light. I need to hear that message again and again.
August 31, 2010 Who are the children of God? All of us or just some of us? Technically, if you believe the creation story in the first two chapters of Genesis, then we are all God's children. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, the first words out of his mouth were, "Our Father . . . ." That's a broad stroke and we are all included.
But other dimensions to this debate were added at other places in the Bible which indicate we are God's people if we choose to be. Being a child of God is a gift of grace, a gift that needs to be received. A holy "yes" is required on our part; and a hand that reaches out to accept the gift.
Being someone's child can be a matter of name only. Or it can be a vital, living, loving relationship. Jesus came to show us how to get from the former to the latter. John, the Gospel writer, uses extreme terminology to describe what it means to become a child of God. He says it's like coming out of the darkness into the light, or being called forth from the grave into the marvelous life of God.
Are we all children of God? Or just some of us? I believe our world would be greatly enriched if we all prayed the Lord's Prayer with an inclusive attitude. If we truly looked upon each other as brothers and sisters most of our universal problems would be greatly diminished. There could be peace, all would be fed, and no one would be left alone and unloved. But that's not the world we live in. And even brothers and sisters can be treacherous toward each other. So what are we to do? Individually we can lift our eyes and "hunger and thirst for righteousness" as Jesus said in one of his beatitudes. And that's where Jesus takes us by the hand and says, "Come, follow me."
Those who accept his invitation are the ones in this passage who receive him with love, trusting him to be who he said he is. God's children walk by faith, clothed in humility and bursting with gratitude for the mercies and loving kindness of their Father in heaven. Belonging to God is more than a creation story, it's a life long re-creation experience.
March 4, 1982 To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; . . . --Revised Standard Version
Was thinking about this verse yesterday. I want so much not to miss the mark, but to accept God into my life. To live my life for him, with him, and through him. To me he gives the promise of power. I am not weak when I am a child of God. His resources are available to me. I do not have to be afraid of my inadequacies. The strength, ability and wisdom to do the job comes from him. The willingness, disciplined living, and obedience come from me. Under these conditions I am ready and look forward to the future with great anticipation and joy.