John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made. That which was made in it was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (ESV modified by LLT).
I love the “in the beginning” idea. Before any of this there was something I didn’t know or observe. OK, before we thought we had it all figured out as mankind…there was already God’s plan. Listen you may be an intelligent design evolutionist or a literal creationist or whatever and still you can know that before you knew anything (or mankind knew anything) God had a master plan. His master plan was this:
Eph 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)
Check out how the mirror translates this passage:
Eph 1:3-6 Let’s celebrate God! He lavished every blessing heaven has upon us in Christ! He associated us in Christ before the fall of the world! Jesus is God’s mind made up about mankind! He always knew in his love that he would present us again face-to-face before him in blameless innocence. He is the architect of our design; his heart dream realized our coming of age in Christ. His grace-plan is to be celebrated: he greatly endeared us and highly favored us in Christ. His love for his Son is his love for us.
Also check out how the Mirror translates some of the John passage at the beginning:
John 1:3-6 The Logos is the source; everything commences in him. He remains the exclusive Parent reference to their genesis. There is nothing original, except the Word! The Logic of God defines the only possible place where humankind can trace their genesis. His life is the light that defines our lives. The darkness was pierced and could not comprehend or diminish this light. (Toit, Francois Du (2014-01-08). Mirror Bible)
Sometimes I get a picture of how this works, sort of. In our beginning, well the one with the garden and all, we made the forbidden fruit our new diet. When we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil we got really messed up. In our fall we found self and shame. We took the good-bad list and looked into the mirror. We didn’t see ourselves as from Jesus but saw something we didn’t like. The condemnation and shame and guilt became our cesspool of certain rejection and ultimate death. We made God into an image of ourselves. We projected our dysfunction and angst on the face of Love Himself. We ran and hid as a result. We sought out the darkness as a hiding place from a g.o.d. who wasn’t real other than in our imaginations. We embraced a lie and hid from the truth. The darkness of deceit became our best friend. We had no clue about who God really was. We conjured self-righteous pleasure from religious servitude to a figment of human wisdom. This lie about God became the truth of religion and it has kept us in the darkness.
Then Jesus comes to reveal the truth. He shows us the Father. He reveals the triune love of Love. We see the trinity of perfect relationship in other-centered humility and union. We see a God who is three and one. In their union we see a single God who loves not out of emotion but out of character and nature. His natural expression is love and kindness and acceptance and assurance and inclusion and family. He made us to be His family. He hasn’t stopped and will never stop chasing us even when we are hiding from Him in the darkness.
I am beginning to “see” how our good-bad is the very thing that compels us to stay in the darkness. We can’t comprehend or process the truth of a God who is really too good to be true. In the west we have endless years of tradition and doctrine and commentary and interpretation that point to a g.o.d. that has to beat the hell out of his child to get the hell out of himself. How ridiculous. Our religious good-bad is still our diet and it cannot accept complete and total unconditional forgiveness and grace and mercy and love and glory. The good-bad diet keeps our minds locked in religion instead of the freedom of His truth that sets us free. In Jesus we get to know eternal life which is knowing Him and His Father through Him. We get to experience the glory of a Father-Son relationship that inspires us and motivates us and gives us unearthly assurance.
Still good-bad is not going away but we don’t have to live from it. When we eat from the tree of life, when we consume Jesus, we are free from the good-bad bondage. Our minds are renewed to know His will….which is…our adoption as His kids. Are you getting the picture? This walk is not about the good-bad but about life and the light of life. We get to participate in the most amazing family dynamic ever conceived by the author of perfect love.
So how do we “see” in the illumination of the darkness by the light of life? We are free from categories. Instead of good-bad we see the circumstance. Instead of judging we see opportunity for life. We can see Jesus operate in the darkness and use the bad to bring good. Too obtuse? OK, a couple of short examples.
When I got a DUI in 2003 was it good or bad? Wrong question. We stop looking through the lens of good-bad and instead see the light in the darkness. For me the light was right there. After some time in handcuffs and a night in the guest room, I woke up with the thought of home. That home I knew was “church.” In my grid and understanding of that time I knew that God had an answer. The place I thought you might find God was in church. I grew up in that kind of culture, so I turned to what I knew. Right there, with the pig poop sandwich inches from my lips, I remembered my Father who was waiting for me on the road. Get it? The light shining in the darkness. If I spend time in good-bad, wow where does that lead? Lost career…saved life. Broken marriage…new marriage. Dirtbag…pastor. Come on the list goes on and on. Jesus met me exactly where I was. That was the Trinity working from the inside out. That was my inclusion being made manifest. That was my unearthly assurance being born from within the darkness of the bushes. The Holy Spirit (who I didn’t even know) was gently revealing the love of the Father for the Son.
Second one is a movie I recently saw. Now days I see Jesus all over the big screen. I think it is a conspiracy…ha ha. The movie was “Inside Out.” Just the title should give it away. I won’t give away the movie but I need to quickly set the stage. The main character in the movie is a girl named Riley and the story is about how Riley’s emotions are working in her “head” to help her through life. Memories are formed from various events and each of those memories are influenced and recorded with her “emotions at the controls.” For example a happy memory has been influenced by Joy. In the movie these “emotions” are characters with their own personalities and stories. OK the moment that really got me was when Sadness (one of the emotion characters) was comparing a memory with Joy. Joy remembers this happy moment of a party and celebration. Sadness remembers a time when Riley was crying and very sad. Later Joy has an opportunity to replay the memory. She goes back in the memory to a point before the party. Sure enough Riley is sitting there and she is sad. Her parents cheer her up by throwing a party. This turns out to be a very important memory for Riley because it is about family and the support she had from her mom and dad. Joy realizes that without sadness you can’t have joy.
When we are free from the religious bondage of good-bad and step into the light of Jesus we begin to see differently. When we embrace our assurance, Jesus begins to reveal a Father who is really too good to be true (in our tiny minds). Now we can see our “good-bad circumstance” as just circumstance. I can know that “good” or “bad” are not indicators of God’s presence or involvement or approval. He is in all of it. He works just as well through the bad as the good. He didn’t make me drink and He wasn’t punishing me for being stupid. I did that to myself. He used it for a life change. Riley didn’t need an attitude adjustment. She just needed a good cry and the support of her family. Good and bad stuff is going to happen in a good-bad world. Jesus is in both. He died to get into our worst possible darkness; the rejection of our creator. He still holds all things together. He is still drawing us out of the darkness. He is still holding us when we really need a good cry. He is that good. He isn’t afraid of our good-bad but instead will use anything He can to reveal our inclusion in His family.