From Liz Groman
(Opportunities Pastor)

On self-inspection

1 John 1:1-4 ESV That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

1 John 1:1-4 MSG From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!

1 John 1:1-4 PHILLIPS We are writing to you about something which has always existed yet which we ourselves actually saw and heard: something which we had an opportunity to observe closely and even to hold in our hands, and yet, as we know now, was something of the very Word of life himself! For it was life which appeared before us: we saw it, we are eye-witnesses of it, and are now writing to you about it. It was the very life of all ages, the life that has always existed with the Father, which actually became visible in person to us mortal men. We repeat, we really saw and heard what we are now writing to you about. We want you to be with us in this—in this fellowship with the Father, and Jesus Christ his Son. We must write and tell you about it, because the more that fellowship extends the greater the joy it brings to us who are already in it.

The Bible is a book full of characters and fantastic stories. The temptation is to treat those characters and stories as another work of fiction when we allow its words to lose their power and anointing, when our relationship cools because we distance ourselves from its truth, when we allow what we can see/feel to become more real than the power of God available to us, when we forget that Jesus is not the figment of an author’s imagination but actually God made manifest in a human body. The Bible is the actual history of God’s dealings with His creation, His people. The fantastic stories are God’s miraculous intervention into human circumstances, suspending the immutable laws of the universe/nature to demonstrate His power, His grace, His mercy, His intimate knowledge of our needs, His love for us. Jesus, God in the flesh, Redeemer, is the walking, breathing evidence of all of these and His commitment to live in and flow His power through us. What an experience it must have been to see Him, touch Him, hear Him and, yet, there were those who did and remained unmoved.

I have imagined myself sitting in the crowd as Jesus taught - seeing Him standing before me, hearing His voice, experiencing His miracles. I wonder how I would have responded. Would I have been touched and changed or thought it was good teaching but not life-changing or condemned it as heresy because it did not agree with my religious traditions, my concept of how God deals with people? Those who actually sat before Him spanned these and, as a person of that time, would I have recognized the truth/life in His radical teaching? What about now? Is Jesus real, present, personal in my life today or has He become merely a Bible character? Do I examine myself and allow my life to be touched and changed by the teachings I find challenging/radical, trusting in His power/presence/anointing to overcome my fears/failings/insufficiencies/shame? I don’t know what I would have done then, but I do know how I want to respond now - with surrender and complete submission to His will and purpose for me.

Lord, search my heart, try me in all my ways/my thoughts/my motives, and change me to be useful for Your good and glory. May I live for and walk in Your truth. I pray that I will follow well, love well, serve well, journey well and finish well so that I will always give You joy in Your heart. May others come to know You because they meet You in me. Make it so, in the Name of Jesus I pray.