April 27, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by James Chao, Gracepoint San Diego

1 John 1:1-2
Meditate on the fact that with the person of Jesus “life appeared.”
Christianity is different than other religions in that at the core, it’s not about mainly about living a moral life or even a pious life. From the very beginning, Christians have always affirmed that Christian life and eternal life is defined by a person, Jesus Christ. Through the miracle of the Incarnation, we find the eternal God in the person of Jesus. Through witnessing his life, his interactions with the people around him, and his death and resurrection, we get that texture and feel for what God’s character is like. As we come to know Jesus’ character, we come to understand who God is, who we are, who other people are, and how our lives fit together in this universe.

It is amazing that the appearance of God should come in such a historic fact and that for people of all generations, we are called to look back on that historic event of the Incarnation and that historic person to see who God is and learn what life is about. For me, I thought that I would come to discover life is through what I do and the meaning of life that I find. It never occurred to me to look backwards into the past. I want to be able to define truth and life based on my own life and my own experiences. And yet, because the fullness of God is in Jesus, it’s his life of coming from heaven, his life of suffering and love, and eventually his descent all the way to the cross and his unjust and criminal death that I need to look to for the meaning of life. In the end, the meaning of my life doesn’t come from what I can make of my life, or even what we do as a church, but it’ll be about what that life from two thousand years ago and how I am connecting everything back to him. I can never feel like I’ve learned enough about him and “graduate” from having to continually looking back to the life he led.

In what ways have I experienced life after encountering Jesus?
The very depth and breadth of life expanded so much after I met Jesus in ways that I never expected. As I learned about God through his word, I came to recognize the depth of my own yearning for something more that I could not articulate before, as well as the depth of my persistent sinfulness and wretchedness. At the same time, I have come to grasp the height of God’s love that he would embody the utmost grace and forgiveness toward his enemies. I never knew that there could be such a person who would love and die for undeserved people as Jesus did on the cross, how love and sorrow could mingle in this way as the Best died for the Worst. Before meeting Jesus, I never knew that it would be possible to live beyond the reality of this life here, that it can be so meaningful and joyful to live beyond the four corners of my earthly life. Before meeting Jesus, I never knew that there could be joy in giving myself to something greater or to meet the needs of another person, as the only thing I had known was to please myself and gratify my desires. I never knew that there could be freedom is letting go of maximizing things for myself, as I thought that would just be sheer torture, and yet I experienced letting go of lesser things for greater things, such as in giving up independence for the sake of fellowshipping with others. In so many ways, my very understanding and expecting of life was so narrow and didn’t even seek after true life because I didn’t know it existed. but through Jesus, I’ve come to discover such an expansiveness and richness in life.

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Submitted by James Kim, Gracepoint Berkeley

Reflection questions
John 1:1-5, 14
“The term “the Word” (Gk. Logos) conveys the notion of divine self-expression or speech and has a rich OT background. God’s Word is effective: God speaks, and things come into being (Gen. 1:3, 9; Ps. 33:6; 107:20; Isa. 55:10–11), and by speech he relates personally to his people (e.g., Gen. 15:1).”[1]
Reflect on the words describing the true nature of Jesus (“the Word”) in this passage in light of the cross and resurrection. Jesus is described in this passage as “the Word”, being with God and “was fully God” (from the NET).   God commands things into being through his word, and he relates to man through his word.  It’s appropriate that Jesus is described as “the Word” from God, because Jesus is embodiment of God’s message to the world, communicating who God is, his message of love, his message of what it means to be a follower of God, and what it doesn’t mean.  And Jesus is God’s message to the world of forgiveness and eternal life available to anyone who would believe in Jesus, anyone who would believe what God’s Word says.  Jesus is God’s word in flesh and made his dwelling among us, to be with us (Emmanuel).
Jesus is the message from God the Father, full of grace and truth.  The cross is God’s word (message) of truth that I am a sinner, and the truth of what punishment my sins deserve.  The cross is God’s word of grace that the punishment my sins deserve were suffered for me by Jesus who died there on my behalf, so that I would not have to.  And the resurrection of Jesus is God’s word of life, hope and victory that I am forgiven of my sins, that I will rise again as Jesus did, and that sin and death do not have any more final say to me as it did on Jesus.

John 1:12
What “right” do I have through Jesus?
I have the right to become a child of God through Jesus.

What are the implications that flow from this right in my life?
The implications of being a child of God through Jesus is that I am a co-heir with him.  God raised Jesus from the dead, and so I too will rise again at the end of this life.  Being a child of God means that what God said of Jesus applies to me as well, that I am God’s son, beloved of God.  It means that I inherit the same work that God had Jesus do, the work of taking up my cross for the sake of saving souls.

It also means that I have “dying” to do, in living a cross-bearing life.  It means that I should expect the world to treat me as the world treats Jesus.  If God gives me the same work that he gave Jesus, then that means I also inherit the suffering that is involved in carrying out my duties as a Christ-follower.  As I hold onto truth that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness, and that every person is a sinner in need of forgiveness, the world isn’t going to like or welcome that news.  It means that I’ll have to engage in some down-right uncomfortable things: conversations that I’d rather not have; hard work that will make me tired and might not yield results that I expect or want to see; holding on to standards that are going to make me and my beliefs and this church potentially very unpopular; denying myself of physical, emotional and relational luxuries that those who do not follow Christ in a similar socio-economic status indulge themselves in regularly.

But all of that flows from the “rights” of acceptance by God and to eternal relationship with him in the next life, while enjoying freedom from the weight and penalty of my sins in this one.  Nothing in this world that I forfeit can compare to that.

John 1:16-18
How have I “received one blessing after another” from the “fullness of his grace?”
I’ve received salvation from death.  I’ve received restoration and healing from my sins.  I’ve received reconnection with other people, a restored relationship with my family, my dad in particular, with friends and other people who I was pushing away because of my pride and my refusal to accept my part in the relational issues that I was having.

I’ve received good work and depth of relationships with others who engage in God’s work.  I’ve received relationships with others who look to me to lead them and guide them in the ways of discipleship.

When I think about the blessings from the life that I’ve been given and the duties that God has charged me with, I think about the people that I’ve had the privilege to minister to over the years.  Many of them are ministering to others, who are co-laborers in ministry.  I have relationships with junior high school students (that blows my mind), that I care about and who take their own faith seriously.

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Submitted by Sara Hong, Gracepoint Berkeley

John 1:1-5, 14
Reflect on the words describing the true nature of Jesus (“the Word”) in this passage in light of the cross and resurrection. The fact that Jesus, the Word, was with God in the beginning makes the fact that he came to this earth in the flesh all the more amazing.  Jesus chose to leave the eternal fellowship he shared with the Father; what is more, he suffered complete separation and sundering from the Father on the cross as he bore my sins there.  Through his sacrifice, I am able to experience the truth of the statement, “In his was life,” since Jesus’ death and resurrection has given me life—new life, eternal life.  “The Word” of God as manifested in Jesus is the letter that God provides to me, expressing his love.  As “the Word” hung upon the cross 2,000 years ago, Jesus shows me that he is the final word on God’s desire to be reconciled to His creation.

John 1:12
What “right” do I have through Jesus?
I have the “right” to become a child of God.

What are the implications that flow from this right in my life?
I have the “right” to be a child of God purely because of all that God has done for me; I am not a child due to anything that involves me—“born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  The implications of this amazing adoption I have into God’s family are many: because I have freely received this identity from God, I don’t have to be in doubt about whether I truly belong to Him or not; I don’t have to worry about meriting my place or working in order to keep my place in my Father’s household.  What is more, the fact that I have this “right” compels me to gladly lay down any other “right” that I have: I can lay down my sense of self-sufficiency, self-centeredness, independence because I have been given the most amazing “right” of all—to be called a child of God.

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