Tuesday, 22 April 2008

A Simple Choice (1 John 5:6-12)

Just the other day I decided to try and cycle from Exeter to Bournemouth via Lyme Regis and Weymouth (about 90 miles) and after 3 hours hard slog, I just about got to Lyme Regis and I had a choice to make. Do I keep going and try and make the whole distance or do I give up here and eat some fudge instead? You can probably guess which one I chose and I don't regret it one little bit. Fudge is yummy!

Our choices can be really important, especially when it comes to what we choose to do with Jesus...


First of all, what's all this blood and water stuff in the first bit? I had some idea that it might be about the natural earthly life and death of Jesus (considering how important it is) and then I checked to see what the Message version of the Bible had to say...

Jesus—the Divine Christ! He experienced a life-giving birth and a death-killing death. Not only birth from the womb, but baptismal birth of his ministry and sacrificial death. And all the while the Spirit is confirming the truth, the reality of God's presence at Jesus' baptism and crucifixion, bringing those occasions alive for us. A triple testimony: the Spirit, the Baptism, the Crucifixion. And the three in perfect agreement.

I wasn't surprised about what the Message version said and I found it a really helpful explanation of the things John is talking about. God is basically giving us repeated opportunities to look and realise that Jesus is who he says he is and we all have a choice to make about whether or not we believe him.

If we believe God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) when he tells us about Jesus, John tells us what we get - LIFE and if we don't, John is equally clear that we get death instead. There's no middle ground about saying Jesus was just a really nice guy but that's it. People who think that are totally ignoring most of the wild and miraculous things Jesus said and did.

CS Lewis in his book, 'Mere Christianity', explains it really well I think...

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him, "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Do you ever doubt that Jesus is the Son of God and all that he says? I know I have my doubts sometimes and then I get to thinking about the evidence again... The historical reliability of the gospel accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the birth, the baptism, the death, burial and resurrection. And it doesn't stop there. I have to think about the things I know God has done in my own life too. The peace, the rescue through all sorts of trials and trouble, the comfort in pain and the resources to know what to do just at the right time. I have to remember because the reality of God's presence and power at work in my life and in the lives of those around me has been abundantly clear. It's not been because I'm such an amazing person (I'm not!). It's been God. Some would say I'm kidding myself about it being God but when I look at the evidence I have to say that I'd be kidding myself to ignore all that God has blatantly done. He just been so busy showing us himself that we'd be stubborn and closed-minded to conclude he's not there or that Jesus was just some bloke who was really nice.

A prayer...

Lord - Thank you for Jesus and thank you for not being a totally invisible or silent God but for constantly interrupting our world's history with significant demonstrations of your love for us. Thank you for the biggest interruption of all when Jesus came and lived, died and rose again for us so we can have a relationship with you. Help us to keep trusting you until this world ends and sin, pain, hurt, death, sadness, tears, and everything else that's horrible and crap is over and done with - gone forever. Amen!