Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Question of Intent…

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, 4 and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of King David. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah… (Matthew 1:1-6, NRSV)

The Christian faith is built upon many different tensions. Seemingly contradictory, traditional Christian tenets hold a tenuous grasp of polar opposites. The story of the faith is built on God becoming human, bringing the dead back to life and saving all of humanity to eternal life by dying. Christian disciples are both free to exercise their will, within the confines of God’s will. Christians carry within them all the promises and power that God conveys to God’s children, yet we often act with all the values of people who are not yet disciples of Christ.

One of the strongest tensions present in the Christian worldview is that of God’s intent and humanity’s exercise of free will. Beginning in the garden of Eden and working all throughout the biblical narratives humanity seems to so often get it wrong, and yet somehow, God’s will is enacted in creation. Many times, despite humanity’s best efforts to the contrary, God’s overarching plan is realized for the betterment of creation.

 

In contemporary life, we struggle with the realization and exploration of Gods will versus our own wants and desires and more specifically, how these two tensions are experienced for us. We hear that struggle whenever we hear a preacher or congregant talking about “staying in God’s will” or “waiting to see what God is going to do”. Many of our churches have preached that people ‘be in the will of God’ at the same time they say “God has empowered them to take action” without understanding inherent contradictions in those statements.

The working of God’s intent and design in humanity cannot ever fully be understood. Nor can the gift (sometimes perverted) of human intent and action in the world (free will) ever be fully appreciated theologically. However, an example of where we get it wrong is found in the comments of Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock a few weeks ago. The gist of the story is linked here. Mr. Mourdock argued at a debate that,

“I know there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view, but I believe that life begins at conception,” Mourdock said at a debate with Democratic opponent Rep. Joe Donnelly and libertarian Andrew Horning. “The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother.” Mourdock added: “I just struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize: Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” (Taken from an article entitled ‘Richard Mourdock under fire for rape remarks’ on www.politico.com)

Now, parsing his words, I believe that Mr. Mourdock was referring to the life of the child that results from pregnancy and to not the rape itself. While life is indeed a gift from God, Mr. Mourdock’s statements relegate women (and all humanity) to mere backdrops on the stage of creation. No matter how life comes into the world, we should be grateful for it and ignore the means of conception? No matter how painful or complicated or unintended or unlawful that conception might be? In other words the extension of this argument is that the ends justify the means. Rape results in life and therefore (fill in the blank). While the latter statement, Mr. Mourdock never said, I am using the extension of his argument to illustrate a point. (It also should be noted that I do not believe politicians should be in the business of doing theology.)

According to this theology, the free exercise of human will only serves to enact God’s will. We act and regardless of what we do, God’s ends are always served. As good as that might sound, the implications of this theology means that acts of violence like rape are what God has always intended. Everything from the murder of Abel by Cain to nuclear war, the Holocaust and genocide are all God’s will in the end. You see, in this theological frame, you cannot distinguish human action from God’s sovereignty. Despite the abhorrent implications of this theology, many serious God-fearing Christians (as given testament to by Mourdock’s statements) believe in this kind of warped orthodoxy.

Our text for today offers us a more genuine theological perspective. This text is the opening of the gospel of Matthew and is known as the genealogy of Christ. Contained in the heritage of Christ is every manner of human experience and relationship. Some children are produced by traditional marriage (ancient marriage), others are products of rape and incest, while others still are counter to cultural practices and have suspect origins. Peculiar that the savior of the world comes down and through many of the same experiences that all of us have in our family tree?

With all of this abounding soap operatic history, the writers of the gospel make a subtle distinction when speaking to human intent and God’s will in relationships in verse 6b. The writer recognizes the parentage of Solomon but makes clear, that Bathsheba was never lawfully David’s wife; she was “the wife of Uriah”. If you are familiar with the story of David and Bathsheeba (2 Samuel 11), you will discover the machinations of David to get his way with another man’s wife. (It should be noted that if this incident had taken place today, David would have been considered a statutory rapist for using his position to coerce sexual activity).

 

Despite this failure of David, the point of the writer in Matthew’ geneology is that we cannot ever, from our limited vantage, distinguish God’s intent from our human action. The biblical witness and story convey that our only real vantage for understanding is in reverse: seeing how God can redeem the actions that we perform. And God CAN redeem our mistakes and mess-ups! We make huge mistakes, we are violent towards one another. We steal, we cheat we murder, those acts are not God designed or God intended. They are the results of the perversion of the gift of human will. It is within the power of God to redeem our horrible acts toward each other to find moments of grace and healing. It isn’t as easy as it sounds nor is it as simple as exchanging pain for healing. It takes time, effort and mercy and sometimes takes a lifetime to adjust to. Some victims never reach that point in survival. Just ask any victim of sexual assault and violence.

The truth is always more complicated than any politician (or any human being) can ever really understand. In the end, speaking for God is always problematic and risky. Let the works and intent of God be revealed through experiences in the life of God. Somewhere in the midst of human trial and God’s design we can find a vision of truth that moves us closer to healing.

 

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Hope Yet Unborn…

7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Elkanah her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”  9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s temple. [b]10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” 

19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, [b] saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”21 When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always.”  23 “Do what seems best to you,” Elkanah her husband told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.  24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah [3/5’s of a bushel] of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. 25 When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. 27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

As an educator in public and private schools I developed a keen sense of what it means to be a part of the nurturing and growth of children. First as an elementary school teacher and later as a middle school teacher, I witnessed firsthand the importance of parental involvement in a child’s life. Even now as a college educator, I have seen adults who have either remained bitter for the lack of their parent’s involvement in their life, or deeply appreciative for their parent’s continual support in their lives. In either case, the actions parents weigh critically on the lives of the children they raise. My experience allowed me to gain a key appreciation for the life of the elders in the life of the children.

Many of us are familiar with the sacrifices that parents make for their children. Some leave their careers and jobs behind to relocate for better schools, others sacrifice time and money and other energy to pay for camps, piano lessons, sports activities or any of a host of activities for their children. But in every one of those situations, the child is already with them (that is to say the child has been born and is already present). The parent sacrifices for the child because the child is present asking for (or needs) the sacrifice to make a better way in the society; at least that is what we tell ourselves.

Along these same lines, we live in a time and place where a great deal of our life has been made easier. Computers, iPods, iPads, cell phones, social media and technology as a whole has made the world manageable and we can get ‘da bighead’ sometimes as my grandmother use to say. We (and many of our younger counterparts) often carry a sense of entitlement and ownership even though we have done nothing to deserve the trappings that we possess. Our self righteousness can get us in trouble in a lot of ways. I have seen young people cross the street as if cars aren’t going to them. Some treat food and shelter as just standards for life and there are even times when we actually think that we are too young to die. Youth left unchecked can be a dangerous thing and the irony is that it takes age to realize it.

More than anything else, I came to learn that the life of any community is its children and it is the responsibility of the elders- parents and non-parents alike to invest in the life of the community. The nature of that investment is the future of the community and that future along with the destiny of the community, lies in the yet unborn. And it is the unborn that our text speaks of today.

 

The story of Samuel is one that is framed in the context of the larger community; namely that of the story of Israel. Hannah is a wife without an identity.  Yes, in the ancient near east (as in many places) the purpose and function of the wife is to produce a child for the husband. To be more specific, in this time period, the identity of any female is a function of how many male children she has produced. The more boys she has, the more status she attains in the society and our Hannah, has none and thus no status.

Now this notion of identity is important for two reasons. One, Hannah’s desperate yearning for children leads her to the temple of the Lord at Shiloh. She comes year after year putting her hopes and prayers on the offering that her husband Elkanah offers to God.  She knows and believes God for her identity. Secondly, when we find her in the text she has decided to plead with God as her ultimate help and hope. It is the cry of a desperate woman, a woman without focus or direction or… identity. She feels this pain so much that she makes an offer unto God. Given that she has no status because she has no child, she is willing to forsake that status for the blessing of a male child. So great is her desire and her faithfulness in God that she gives not only, the child she desperately wants, but also, she puts her life’s purpose, her identity, into God’s hands.

When her child is finally born she calls him Samuel because “she asked the Lord for him”. Samuel’s name is from the verb to ask and refers to God hearing her cry and answering with this son this same verb also means to lend. Samuel is the answer to many prayers, hopes and dreams and indeed his mother’s future rests on him. Being true to her promise though, she returns him back to God for God’s purposes and the Bible says that he was God’s “helper” in the temple.

Hannah shows us that her faithfulness to God is so strong that she is willing to invest everything that she is into bearing a child. She puts all of her being into the fulfillment of that purpose. So much so that her child will be God’s child- living for God’s purposes. Parents and community elders, are you willing to invest all that we are into a prayed for future? I am talking about the one thing that all of us hold most dear: OUR CHILDREN AND OUR YOUTH.

If that is the case, then the only hope for any lasting legacy, any future, any hope for the continuation of our lineage and community is with our children. Yes, these young people who we sometimes find confusing, disoriented, clumsy and down-right lazy are the promise of our tomorrow. Truth-be-told all of us at one time or another were seen as confusing, disoriented, clumsy and always lazy! But even then, someone was laying their hopes on us. Believing that God would straighten us out and put us on a path toward God’s self and so here we are.

We are all elders in our communities. We protect, lead and guide our future through our present actions, behaviors and cares with our children. There is a verse from James Weldon Johnson’s Lift every Voice and Sing that provides us a true vision of truth on this day:

 

Stony the road we trod,

bitter the chastening rod,

felt in the days when hope unborn had died;

Yet with a steady beat,

have not our weary feet

come to the place

for which our fathers died?

 

We have come over a way that with tears have been watered,we have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.

Out from the gloomy past,

till now we stand at last

where the white gleam

of our bright star is cast.

 

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A Revelation While Falling…

The heavens are telling the glory of God;

and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech,

and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words;

their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.

 

An amazing feat in human history was achieved over the weekend.  For many, it went by with little or no fanfare because of the present occupation with the Presidential elections. Nonetheless, this feat is right up there with the annals of the deepest sea dive, the world speed record and Lindbergh’s non-stop flight. You see, a man, Felix Baumgartner stood on a platform 24 miles above the earth’s surface and proceeded to jump into a free fall. After four minutes and 20 seconds, he landed safely in the New Mexico desert. In the process, he broke the sound barrier, becoming the first human being ever to do so without the aid of aircraft or vehicle.

Now, I am a science fiction fan and love the ‘geeky’ facts and figures of such an effort. Facts like

    • Being 128,100 feet above sea level, the air is less than 10% oxygen.
    • It took nearly three hours for Baumgartner to rise the distance in a 550 foot tall helium ballon.
    • If he did not use his specially designed capsule to dive in, Baumgartner would have burned up in less than minute due to the frictional movement of his body through the air.
    • At one point he reached a speed of just over 830 miles an hour or Mach 1.24.

Despite these wonderful tidbits and Jeopardy factoids, I found the most interesting thing to be his speech just before he jumped. Baumgartner’s speech garbled through the communication system 24 miles above our heads. He said,

“I know the whole world is watching now, and I wish the world could see what I see. And sometimes you have to go really high to see how small you are.”

A truly profound statement in the light of the wondrous view of the earth circling beneath him. Unencumbered by windows or machinery, he stands on the edge of space and in so doing, see how insignificant we are.

David, the pro ported writer of this Psalm provides a humbling account of the power of God’s creation. In this Psalm of orientation, he places God and God’s creation in their proper order: God as enthroned and God’s creation as conveying God’s glory. Reading the entire Psalm, one gets awestruck at the power and authority of God as conveyed through God’s creation. The text says creation doesn’t need to speak to convey that power. There is no direct voice or speech to proclaim the power of God, yet the message of the intent of the Creator is clear: we are not it.

“Creation declares the work of the Lord” and thus puts all of creation in its place. We too need to marvel at the wonder and power of God through God’s creation and movement in the world. There is much already working around us to testify to the power of God and we often miss it. The changing of the seasons, the migration of birds and the phases of the moon all testify to the power of God as the sovereign creator. When we consider all that our senses are able to take in and perceive, we should look and wonder as the hymn writer said, “Then sings my song, my savior God to thee, ‘How great thou art, How great thou art.’”

We ought not need a perspective of 128,000 feet to know that we are not the center of the universe nor as important as we think ourselves to be. It should not take us having to commit a great feat for science and humanity to know that we are but fragile beings who are easily distracted and destroyed. Everything we see, and experience, should remind us that God is indeed sovereign. If we operated from that understanding and not a high and mighty perch, then perhaps we would be better stewards of this world and of ourselves. After all, knowing and living out the difference between a steward and master is the key to having a vision of truth.

 

 

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Paralyzed by Success

22 All of you came to me and said, “Let us send men ahead of us to explore the land for us and bring back a report to us regarding the route by which we should go up and the cities we will come to.” 23 The plan seemed good to me, and I selected twelve of you, one from each tribe. 24 They set out and went up into the hill country, and when they reached the Valley of Eshcol they spied it out 25 and gathered some of the land’s produce, which they brought down to us. They brought back a report to us, and said, “It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us.” 26 But you were unwilling to go up. You rebelled against the command of the LORD your God; 27 you grumbled in your tents and said, “It is because the LORD hates us that he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to hand us over to the Amorites to destroy us. 28 Where are we headed? Our kindred have made our hearts melt by reporting, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we; the cities are large and fortified up to heaven! We actually saw there the offspring of the Anakim!’ ” 29 I said to you, “Have no dread or fear of them. 30 The LORD your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your very eyes, 31 and in the wilderness, where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place. 32 But in spite of this, you have no trust in the LORD your God, 33 who goes before you on the way to seek out a place for you to camp, in fire by night, and in the cloud by day, to show you the route you should take.” (Deuteronomy 1:22-33, NRSV)

Life is filled with various emotional actions and reactions to the circumstances we are placed in. Many times our emotional action or reaction to the things that surround us are positive and sometimes negative. I know that many times we are told that reactions themselves are neither negative or positive. We are told that the context for those emotions determine whether something is positive or negative. I would submit however that within virtually any context, one of the strongest negative emotions is fear.

Fear in its purest form is based on misperceptions and misconceptions about the reality around us. Fear is often irrational and illogical. Our fears are rooted in experiences, thoughts or memories that are either contrived (totally a figment of our imagination), misunderstood (interpretation and perception is wrong), or some variation of the previous two (misunderstood experience that is overanalyzed for a meaning that isn’t there!). The real danger about fear is its tendency to feed on itself in the heart of the fearful. With little effort, a person can work themselves into a frenzy of hatred or isolation based on fears that are left unchecked.

One of the unhealthy results of fear is its eventuation into paralysis. Fear, if left unexamined, can lead to paralysis in a situation. My fear of spiders always paralyzes me when the time comes to get rid of the pesky insect. Other fears will stop people in their tracks. Fears, and any manner of phobia, lead their sufferers to seize up and keeps them from experiencing the fullness of life. It isn’t just fears of creatures or events that keep us paralyzed. In the human experience there is this peculiar condition that many of us go through from time to time. It is a fear of success. There are those of us who spend our lives moving from situation to situation and living of life of equilibrium and mediocrity because we believe it is safe. Our warped sense of safety in the status quo (no matter how dysfunctional) comes from a strong fear of risk. More than that, some of us take the risks to be better and yet when we experience success, we frantically return to what we know. It happens when people who have lived in failing and bad situations finally experience real opportunities. They experience growth and health in their relationships and their lives and things begin to look up. After a few months of success, they sabotage good relationships, healthy living and good jobs. They return back to what they know and then wonder why they would sabotage what they knew to be a good thing?

The opening speech of Moses from the book of Deuteronomy offers insight into a people who are fearful of success. Moses recounts a story from their experience in the wilderness in which spies are sent into the promised land of Canaan to check out its suitability for their coming. The report comes back of a land “flowing with milk and honey” but filled with giants. The people then gripe and complain and then decide that they will not go in spite of the fact that God has (according to the text) “given it to them.”

In recounting the past, Moses is really teaching the people about their future. This will not be the only time when they have difficult moments. This will not be the only time that it LOOKS like the promises of God are at hand but just out of reach. This will not be the only time that all has gone according to plan and people get caught up on their fears. Moses is showing the people the foolishness of their fears and the paralysis it causes. They are willing to forget everything God has brought them through and stay on the outside of the promise of God, because of the fear that has consumed them. This is in spite of the fact that everything they have done has met with success.

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The same holds true for us. Moses is trying to teach us to be careful about how we appropriate and manifest our fears. We have a tendency to believe that when everything is going according to plan, Murphy’s Law will come into play. Instead of focusing on Murphy and his law, why not focus on the successes God has already allowed for you to experience? Why not focus on the ways God has already brought you through circumstances and situations that you could not control? Why not acknowledge that you are in a place you have never been before and God didn’t bring you this far simply to leave you?

Just because things are going well doesn’t mean that disaster is around the corner. Just because the Lord has been faithful in his promises toward you doesn’t mean that you have to be something you are not to ‘make it.’ Sometimes we use ‘promised land moments’ to focus on the ‘what ifs’ of our success. And instead of moving toward success in faith, we get stuck and paralyzed by our proximity to the possible. Moses’ instruction here is always a clear vision of truth in all of life’s situations, “The LORD your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your very eyes, and in the wilderness, where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place.”

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“Here Come the Judge…”

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. (John 3:17-20, NRSV)

Today, October 1st at 10am marks the start of the 2012 term of the Supreme Court. The court begins its term every year on the first Monday of October. As has become the case in recent years, the work of the Court will be intense and polarizing as in the nature of our politics and discourse. The Court’s makeup of five conservatives and four liberals means that the poison of partisanship infects the veil of jurisprudence. Despite the perception and attempts of the governmental institutional life to avoid the appearance of favoritism, history tells us that nearly every social dis-ease affected the work of the Court. From slavery in the 19th century to progressive social activism in the early 20th century, the work of the court has always cemented the views of a generation of jurors, partisans, and the society as a whole.

Despite the challenges of the Court’s docket this term (issues of Affirmative Action in higher education, same-sex marriage, and voting rights), the work of the Court begins just as another major American institution of regulation also returns to work……NFL Referees. Sunday marked the first time in the 2012-13 NFL season that the NFL referees were allowed to play after a lockout began over the summer contract dispute. The NFL’s use of substitute refs, was a debacle to those that loved the game. With all of the criticism they received (even though the blame for lack of readiness rest with the NFL and not the refs), their work to officiate the most popular game in the United States carried much more weight (and had much more impact) on the lives of everyday Americans. Millions of Americans hang on the decisions that these men make every week for 16 weeks of the regular season. Billions of dollars of trade and merchandising hinge on the outcomes of the games they officiate.

Both of these examples highlight the importance and significance of regulation and laws in our life together. The work of the NFL referee and the Supreme Court is identical they interpret a present day action in the light of existing ‘case law’ or ‘canon’. Whether the context is a courtroom or a stadium, the implications of the decision they make impacts the two litigating parties by making them winners or losers, creating a new precedent, or expanding existing definitions. Indeed, the work of all ‘officials’ serves the greater good of governing our lives together to keep peace and maintain harmony.

Their collective work, officials, jurors, umpires and all who do that work, is essential to our life together. For, basic human nature mandates the role of the official or the juror in our institutional life. Whether it is government regulators, crossing guards, judges or umpires, human being’s behavior show a lack of self-control and engagement in the world. We have a tendency to cheat when no one is looking and to bend (or break) the rules when it suits our case. We are going to always need people to judge our actions in accordance with the rules.

Those people have a particular function in conveying their judgment. The judge’s and the official’s function is not to remind us of the law nor is it to make us merely aware of the law as it exists. It is to judge the actions we have already taken against what is accepted as right/just.

The above passage from John’s gospel is the testament of Jesus about himself. It is prompted by his encounter with Nicodemus by night and in secret. Nicodemus is the inquisitive Pharisee who is seeking a deeper understanding of the Christ in this moment. Read all chapter three to get a more thorough understanding of the conversation between these two men. As part of the conversation, Jesus expands on his initial answer to Nicodemus to give a self disclosure of his very nature. Specifically, Jesus conveys the judgement of the world, saying, “ (17)Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him…. (19)And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.”

These statements, which are predicated on verse 17 means that the light (Christ) has come to be received for his message and that darkness (rejection of Christ’s message) was more favorable to people. The goal of the Christ was not to merely condemn bad behavior and just separate the righteous from the unrighteous. Jesus does that. Likewise, Jesus is not coming to merely recite or interpret the legal customs and codes that are part of the Jewish worldview. Jesus does that too! Jesus Christ comes to bring a new way of being, offering life and life more abundantly according to John. This new life and way of being is offered to all who receive him for who he is……the Christ, the Logos, God incarnate.

The judgment in this passage is not so much about what Jesus is going to do (future expectation) nor what Jesus has done (and continues to perform). Instead, the judgement according to Jesus here is self evident by our actions in response to the Christ. Jesus comes into the world and brings a message and the people respond more to their present “darkness” and reject the message Christ brings (that is the judgment). Our actions in the darkness are made known in the light and therefore the judgment of the Christ is clear.

This is a hard notion to swallow for Christians who want God to be the ultimate line judge and determine as a Supreme Court Justice or umpire determining the behaviors of all humanity and creation. I don’t deny that other gospels and epistles do very much convey that reality as part of the role of Christ as Lord. However, the self-disclosure of Jesus in the passage should make us personally responsible for how we respond to the message of Christ. How we respond furthers the judgment of the Christ in the light of his word. By responding in the light, we show Christ as the vision of truth that God intends for him, and all of his followers, to be.

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