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The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
This is the crux of the matter. Jesus came, and he has come into your presence, and you must decide whether to receive him or reject him.
There are many ways to reject him. You can ignore him, pretend he doesn’t exist, you can straight out reject him. You can get distracted and just never think of him. You can consider him and shrug, and move on to your own thoughts and plans. You can consider him, and listen, and then pass judgement on him and put him out of your mind. You can reject him by creating your own version of who he is- guru or revolutionary or wise teacher, but not believing what he says about himself- that He is the Son of God, the lamb who takes away sin.
So many ways to reject him, and only one right way to receive him.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
This is it. See, you can reject him so easily, but if you don’t reject him- this is the promise: He gives you the opportunity to be a child of God.
What exactly is a child of God? We hear that phrase so often when someone is begging us to be compassionate on our fellow humans. “We are all children of God,” they say.
This is true and not true.
On the one hand, we are all creations of God. He tenderly creates us and plans good for us. We are all descended from Adam and Eve, who were born of God’s breath and workmanship. We all possess the miraculous energy that we call life, which only comes from God.
But are we all, truly, children of God?
I want to say that there is no one higher or more important than another. Why should I, who was born into comfort and luxury, be worth more than a child born in the dust of a war-torn, impoverished village on the other side of the world? To say, “We are all children of God” is a beautiful way of expressing that we all have value, and that we ought to give and love and be compassionate and mindful.
But the words are incorrect. We are not all children of God.
In the book of Galatians it says,
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
Faith in Christ makes you a child of God. And without faith, we are not God’s children. In fact, the other option written in the bible is… a child of the devil. I’m serious! (1 John 3:8-10, John 8:42-44, Matthew 13:38, Ephesians 2:2-3)
This is not fun to think of. There are people who choose wickedness- they see the “dark side” and it looks intriguing and powerful and fun, and they willingly take on the name of Satan. I feel as if they are deceived- they don’t know what they were created to be, and they don’t know the loving joy that the Father has for them. They hear the enemy’s promises and lies, and they go the wrong way. I don’t think you are one of them, are you? Or you wouldn’t be reading this, I bet. But if you are, I want you to know that the enemy, in this case, is like a man selling tickets outside of a game. He comes to you and makes you think he’s giving you a great deal, but in reality he’s taking your money and slinking off and leaving you with a worthless scrap of paper, on the outside of where you want to be. I urge you to consider carefully whether you want to be on the side of the One who loves you, or the one who hates you.
But if you are not one of these, you may be one who hears the name of Jesus and thinks that you don’t need to have much to do with it. You may be busy, or very practical. You may think Jesus is for ladies in hats who go to church suppers, or hippies with bumper stickers, or men in suits preaching on street corners.
You may think you are too scientific, too intelligent, too smart for this.
Don’t be deceived. We are all flesh, and we are all spirit. You are not immortal- one day you will face death, and your maker. You are not a purely physical being- you have a spirit and a soul that cries out for meaning and acceptance and freedom and so many other things. I beg you to pause, and consider the Man of God, and what his life means for yours.
There is a third thing you may be. You may be one who has heard the message of the Creator. You may have heard of the Cross, you may have sat in Sunday School and Catechism and all sorts of things where you learned about David and Goliath, Lazarus and Paul and Jonah, John 3:16 and Genesis 1:1. You may know very, very much about the God of the Bible. You may teach VBS and listen to Christian Radio, and you may try very, very hard to be a Christian.
And you may not know the Man, Jesus, at all. He may be like a shadowy figure to you.
To you, friend, I write. To you, I put my arm around you and say, “Let’s find Him. Let’s go farther and farther into this Word. Let’s put aside your rules and good life and clean living, and let’s just think for awhile on this Son of God, and let’s see what happens.”
Believe in His name. Believe that Jesus, the light of the world, the Word became flesh, has a name that has power to make us adopted into the family of God. Receive the One who receives you with love and tenderness.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
This. This passage tells us so much. Jesus became flesh, and came, and by looking at Him, we see God. We see his glory. All the Bible, all of it, is contained in the life of Christ. The law came from Moses, and was fulfilled in Christ. All the teachings are summed up in his teachings, and everything we need comes from him- grace upon grace, blessing on blessing. He is all truth, all wisdom, all love. He is everything we need.
And this children of God thing? It’s because without him, we are going our own way- in fact, the word describes it like this :
“All we like sheep, have gone astray…we have turned- every one- to his own way.”
And this is the thing- that when we chose our own way, we were in rebellion to God. Children of the Devil. But this is Christ- that he came, looked at us while we were gone our own way, stuck and lost in sin, and he loved us. And this is where what John says comes in-
Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
And later in the New Testament:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.
There is more to say about this when we get to chapter three, where a man named Nicodemus comes to talk to Jesus in the night. And there is so, so much more all throughout the bible about how we become sons, children of God- children who are chosen and adopted, and bought with the precious blood of Christ. We are brought into the family, into relationship with God the Father, through his Son, Jesus the Christ. And it is through faith in him- not penance or paying, or anything else. It is through this simple act of looking at Christ, and believing that He is the True Son of God, sent from God, who came, and loved, and died for us, that we are brought into the family..
There is so much more to this that I am only slightly touching this most important fact.
As we go to the man, Jesus, we see over and over the need to receive him and not reject him. But if you are still considering him, if you are still undecided, if he is still a stranger to you- then let’s go on. Let’s see what the words of the book of John reveal about Christ, and while you read, I pray that the Spirit of God will reveal him to you, that hearing, you may believe, and believing, you will have life, and life abundant and free.