As I have mentioned a number of times I have accepted a Facebook challenge to handwrite the book of John. On January 13th (today is Feb 15th) I began to written out ten to twenty or more verses from John. I only miss one day since I started. There have been several advantages to this journey. This is not my first time, Many years ago I wrote out sections of the book for sermon preparation, but was a different journey for a different purpose.
It has been refreshing to see what the text says, actually. I tend to write ahead of the text and find I have to scratch out what I have written because I assumed what was coming, but was wrong. As I usually work with a section at a time I sometimes don’t remember what else is in a chapter. John 3 was particularly that way. I know and quote 3:16-17 regularly, and the whole Nicodemus story is a favorite. There is, however, more in that chapter than I remembered. Jesus goes on to talks about where he came from and the testimony he brings. He addresses light and evil. These two belong together, but I have too often not treated them so. Also, just a fresh view has been a blessing. I listened to John last year as I listened through the Bible, but this has been different.
As I copied this last week, a thought came to me. It came while I was in chapters seven thru nine. Jesus is talking to Jewish leaders on one hand and regular folks in the Temple Court about who he is. Some believed Jesus as a prophet, THE prophet, and/or the Messiah. Others thought him of the devil or a deceiver. I was reminded of C. S. Lewis’s trilemma, Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. That section, done over several days, caused me to think, “Which camp would I have been in?”
If course there is absolutely no way for me to determine which it would be. Who I am now and who I might have been 2100 years ago bear no resemblance. And it is impossible to move into that world. Yet, I couldn’t help wondering. Would I have seen or heard about his miracles, listened to his teaching, and watched him interact with children and the Pharisees believed in him or thought him possessed? I want to believe I would have believed, but who knows. Not knowing who I would have been, I have no way to make a determination.
That brought be to another question, “Why do I believe now?”
It is not a simple one paragraph discussion. A lot of thought and many years and experiences have come into play to bring me where I am. As I live in a nation that has a majority of Christians, I have always been exposed to his teaching. certainly, world view plays a part. My family has been Christian for generations, three that I know for sure and beyond that are many believers and a few preachers. My own life experiences, my reading and listening, my own words spoken from pulpits and classrooms have all contributed to what and why I believe. My faith has both grown and changed through the years. I think I need to apologize to Nezperce Christian Church and Kimberly Christian Church for some of the things I said there. I didn’t preach or teach heresy, but my attitude toward things has changed. My study skills improved in seminary and being in one place for as long as I have been here has forced me to reframe the tenants of my faith. So while the question is still worth asking, the end result is the same. I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of living God and he is my personal Lord and Savior. I first profess those words in 1962 and they are still true.