“God Gave Eternal Life to Us”
Let’s Pray…Rev. Stuart C. Buisch I John 5: 1-12
Eternal life is a thing of yesterday. Eat, drink and be merry and tomorrow you die: gun shots, overdose, STD’s, terminal illness, that’s just a start of a list of today’s reality and we didn’t even mention war and terror attacks.
So how is that eternity became passe? We do live in an immediate world. I can find many people in seconds no matter where they are in the world. I can see their faces, read or hear their words and perhaps get a reply. If my priority is right now, how can I spend time pondering eternity? In contrast if my child has died, my parents are dying and my partner is ill; at one time we would have focused on eternity. Look at the words of our hymns 50 years ago: rock of ages cleft for me…be thou our guide while life shall last and our eternal home…when we’ve been there ten thousand years... I wonder if we have turned to despair, a new vulnerability to mental illness from stress and still stayed away from ‘pie in the sky’ eternity ideas.
But John ends his letter with an interesting twist on all this love, knowing, lying etc. Now as the letter draws to a close, perhaps from his own aging and awareness that he will enter immortality soon he turns to life everlasting. But not so quickly there are building blocks to that position.
Who or what are we born from or to? If we are born from God we have some of God’s handprint in who we are. That hand print from God connects us to the people of God. We love not only God but all who are God’s people and we are loved by them.
Being born of God in John’s terms means that the pressures, chaos, troubles of the world are not stronger than us when we are in God. Our faith empowers us to not be overwhelmed by the situations in our life. What is this world that John is talking about? The world is the place where false prophets are wielding their power. The world is not the place where God reigns but rather the one who is in the world that God is greater than vs 4:4. We live in a dual reality at least. There are those in our community for whom there is nothing more important than their wants, needs, desires, pleasure. I am not convinced that this is even always conscious. But if we were to step back and take a good long look at our day we would see who is at the top of our to do list. Born of God calls into question that kind of overwhelming self-preoccupation. Born of God calls us to the things that interest God. The design of the cosmos, the detail in a human cell, the working of the human mind, the function of a human knee. All around us there are marvels that we can easily ignore until something goes incredibly wrong.
John wants to be perfectly clear about this Jesus he is presenting who offers us eternal life. Jesus came by water and blood. This of course could be a reference to human birth but each of us came in that way. Jesus is like each of us, human so much so that people thought he was simply Mary’s boy, the carpenter’s son. If he was magical, mysterious, glowing the neighbors would have told us. They didn’t.
In this season of the Spirit, we are invited to notice that the Spirit works with the water and the blood to declare to us the meaning of this one born of God, like us and yet so much more. The experience of faith is a gift from water, blood and the Spirit agreeing who Jesus is. This is a gift that we must receive, a testimony that we must believe. Because it comes from beyond this
world it won’t match up to the earthly story and human rhetoric. It must be reached out to in faith.
John’s conversation takes a most curious turn back to the idea of lying. More boldly than before, if one doesn’t believe this, that one makes God a liar. To ignore this message from God declares a lack of faith and puts all the onus of belief back on the individual without any exterior input.
The gift of eternal life is just that a gift. IT requires an openness to a God who put all this cosmos together is such a marvelous way that there are those who can miss the mystery of divine intention.
But we must be careful about our thinking and reasoning. If we as humans are so amazing then perhaps there is a second chapter that is out of this world that was what we were really created for without the benefit of anyone other than God’s Son to bear witness to it. In the name of the Almighty, the all Giving, and the all present, Amen.
Eternal God, you stretch your love and grace around us…
Pain-bearer Christ, you wipe out our sin when you destroyed it…
Spirit Wind of God, blow into our sails to do Your will…