April 28, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Eugene Peng, Gracepoint Berkeley

How does walking in the light lead to “fellowship with one another,” and what is the role of the blood of Jesus in this context?
The blood of Jesus enables us to confront the fact that we are sinners and the blood of Jesus tells us that God wants to offer us His forgiveness and cleansing by His blood.   Through the blood of Jesus, we can fellowship based on the shared knowledge of our utter sinfulness and God’s grace.  As Simeon has prophesied, “the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed” because of Christ.  As I think about the Passion Experience and what Christ suffered last week, the reality of my sinfulness was exposed.  Against the backdrop of Christ’s submission to God’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane, I saw a cowardly, defiant, self-preserving person in me and I could identify with each of the Passion characters.  Before the Cross, it was clear that Judas and Pilate were not the only sinners – I too shared the guilt of nailing Jesus to the Cross.  The only difference is that the blood of Jesus enabled me to acknowledge my shame so that I do not have to resort to the folly of washing my hands in a basin.  I know that I have no excuse and God offers to cleanse me with His blood.

As I was manning BT last week, while the mood was solemn and few exchanged words after the Passion Experience, I did sense a strange closeness with each person that walked out of the Experience.   The gigantic reality of the Cross makes the differences between men very small and insignificant – the differences between undergrads and staff, students and working professionals, singles and married, etc.   I understood that walking in the light does not mean that we become sinless in anyway, but that there is no need to excuse our sinfulness or hide it in anyway.  Our sinfulness is a common knowledge and it is utterly foolish to try to live in darkness.  The blood of Jesus tells us who we are and what He has done for each of us.  Based on that reality, we can fellowship with one another.

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Submitted by Becky Fong, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 John 1:1-2
“It is interesting that in verse 2 the authority behind John’s affirmation is not merely some tradition or doctrinal convention. It springs from experience. It would be one thing for John to defend the particularity of the Incarnation as a logical requirement of some theological system. And no doubt he could do this. The repeated emphasis on personal experience — seeing and testifying what was revealed to us — is not just a way to shore up his defense of the Incarnation. John’s authority rests in what he knows to be true because he has touched it. He is making a compelling appeal; he is offering a testimony, not just to coherent, orthodox theology, but to a living Word, Jesus Christ, whose reality is the principal reference point of his life.”[1]

How has John experienced the reality of Jesus?
John experienced the reality of Jesus by seeing Him, hearing His teaching, and touching and interacting with Jesus himself personally.

Meditate on the fact that with the person of Jesus “life appeared.”
With the person of Jesus, “life appeared”.  Before Jesus came and dwelled among us, people were living in darkness and hopelessness, except for perhaps a vague notion of God’s promise of sending a Messiah.  Before Jesus, there was no clear means for reconciliation with God, for atonement for our sins.  But when Jesus came to earth and lived among us, He was life appearing in that He was the hope and plan of salvation from God.  He showed us what God was like, what pleases God, how to live ourselves, and finally He took on the punishment for our sins so we could be reconciled to God, saved from our sins and death, and thus have real life—reconciled to God, to ourselves, and to others.  He was life appearing to us because He made sense of our lives, what was wrong (our sinfulness), who is our proper authority (God), how we are to live (under God’s authority), our identity (God’s children and ambassadors).

In what ways have I experienced life after encountering Jesus?
I have experienced life after encountering Jesus in so many ways!  It is like going from a black and white, two-dimensional life, to full Technicolor real life.  After encountering Jesus, I found life that comes from recognizing and leaving behind my destructive ways that left me lost and empty and degraded and pursuit of meaning and love through romance, academic achievement, popularity, and shallow entertainment/pleasure.  I experienced life of more real relationships with people, particularly leaders and sisters who knew me in my raw ugliness and still committed to me, forgave me and showed me undeserved care and concern.  I have experienced the life of being forgiven for my sins, the joy and burden lifted that I do not have to carry around the heavy guilt and shame and condemnation I know I deserve.  I have experienced life through deeper joys and pains with others as I obey Jesus’ commands to love one another and make disciples, the thrill and joy and excitement of brothers and sisters crossing the line of faith, and even of just smaller encouraging steps of faith and desire to grow.  Before my life was shallow, narrow self-imposed drama of my own little petty ups and downs, and anything more was from movies and television, but after encountering Jesus, I have experienced life a hundred times over through being impacted and influenced by others and actually having impact and influence on others, with eternal stakes.

1 John 1:3-4
“The purpose of John’s letter is fellowship, ‘so that you also may have fellowship with us’ (v. 3a). The Greek word translated ‘fellowship’ in the NIV is koinonia, which means to have something in common.”[1]

According to v. 3, what should be the basis of Christian fellowship?
The basis of Christian fellowship should be proclaiming what we have seen and heard of Jesus.

On what other basis have I been trying to build Christian fellowship?
I have tried to build Christian fellowship upon lesser things like just humanistic feelings and shallow common interests and getting along, but these are insufficient for true Christian fellowship, which must be centered on our common testimony and teachings of Jesus.  When I try to make humanistic feelings and getting along just based upon personality and interests the basis of my relationships, I ended up misleading others and causing them harm.  One lesson I learned early on when I made this mistake was that my relationships need to be centered on Jesus, meaning I cannot just trust my feelings and try to make others just feel good, because there are times when we need to be confronted with truth, which doesn’t always feel good.  I need to submit my relationships to Jesus’ teachings instead of just going off my feelings of wanting peace and emotional comfort and not wanting my friends or me to feel bad or uncomfortable.

I think more subtly now I still try to build Christian fellowship on superficial things like just getting along or pleasing others, which is an unreliable and insecure basis for relationships.  This is because I don’t always get along with others and definitely do not and cannot please others all the time, especially with my sinfulness and brokenness in my sins of commission, omission, mistakes, etc.  Even when these superficial bases are going okay for a while, I can feel insecure worrying about when we won’t get along, or the next mess-up I make, or just knowing my true character, feeling insecure.  This is why Christian fellowship must be based upon Jesus’ teachings and our testimony of how He has worked, because these basically recognize that I am a wicked broken sinner and have been shown such mercy and grace from God, and that this world is lost apart from Him and needs to hear the gospel.  Jesus’ teachings are that my identity and relationships and all I have have nothing to do with my merit, but is in fact in spite of my undeservedness.

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