Saturday, December 17, 2011

I John 5: real faith for real folks

This is love for God: to keep his commands.

Back in John's day, some self-proclaimed "believers" called gnostics valued hidden knowledge ("I know more about God than YOU do") more than obeying the gospel truth revealed to every shepherd and oxcart mechanic. Their descendents are New Age mystics like my old college roommate from Long Island who said that one day he was skiing and he fell and his face was planted in the snow and he got up and wiped the snow off his face and said, "ah, so this is God."

I remember thinking at the time, "no, this is snow. Lots of it here in Vermont. Knowledge of God, not so much."

And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. 

When I am alive to Jesus and in love with him, what's so hard about wanting to be like him? All else is detail.

 6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9

Puzzling references...... I am thinking that blood refers to Jesus coming to earth in the flesh, i.e. Davidic bloodlines and the messiness of actual childbirth. Water refers, maybe, to the divine selection of baptism? And the Spirit confirming Sonship in the form of a dove at baptism, and many times afterwards? In sum, Jesus met the conditions of Messiah predicted in the prophets and recorded in the gospels: the bloodlines of King David, the acknowledgement of the Baptist, and the witness of the Spirit, both then and in our hearts to this day.

 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14

So simple this verse. Too simple for the gnostics but just right for the rest of us. This week I had a chance encounter with a sister in Christ whose father had died the week previous. This man, let's call him Frank, spent all 82 years of his life in the same Bible-believing church. Came to faith early in life and served his Lord and family well and faithfully, knowing everyone and holding every "service" position in the church over his lifetime. Fixed cars for a living. Served his country in uniform, a fact recognized by an honor guard of friends from the local National Guard. In the last hours of his life, half conscious in a hospice bed, he was surrounded by his children and their children. His wife of more than 50 years, bad hip and all, lay next to him to share their final moments together side by side. 

Such a rich life of love and blessing and community. And best of all, these five words his daughter said to me: "we know he's in heaven."

The knowledge of eternal life is not hidden for some gnostic to discover, it is laid right out there for real folks like me and a no-nonsense Midwestern car mechanic named Frank. We know. They know. Oh Hallelujah.

No comments:

Post a Comment