Monday, September 16, 2013

The Gospel, the Greeks, and the Power of Words (and, of course, the Soli Deo Gloria Party)

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.  Before you leave, take some time to visit a new friend.  If you decide to link up, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!

I'm not a research kinda gal.  I don't easily retain information that I read.  Don't ask me the exact year the Civil War started or to give you the details surrounding the Geneva Convention.  

But to teach my Bible study class, week after week, I have to engage this part of my brain that lies dormant much of the time.  And even though I have to read things over and over, write them down five times, and have Keynote slides to help trigger my memory, I do love researching about God.  Why?  What makes this different?

Because each time I do, I find out new ways He's shown us that He loves us.  

We're studying the Gospel of John this year, moving slowly, unearthing treasures that frankly may have become mundane to us after all these years.  How many times have we read John 1:1? 
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
How many times have you heard or noticed that this fourth gospel is different than the other three?  But have you ever figured out why?

The answer is simple.  Because He loves you.

Chances are, you are a Gentile.  And if you are, this gospel was written for you.  If you have a moment, go back and read the intros to the other three Gospels.  One starts out with a genealogy (Matthew). Another, a reference from an Old Testament prophet (Mark).  Luke tells us about the humble beginnings of a priest named Zechariah.  

These three were written by Jews for the Jews, camping on ideas, people, and an oral tradition they all knew very well.

And then, there's John, the last gospel, who is able to relate to both Jew and Gentile alike.  Turns out, we don't have to be a Jew to experience Jesus.  And of course, we know this today, but the Greeks who wanted to experience Jesus needed a less convoluted way to get to Him.  They needed a different roadmap.

God cares so much for us, He will lay out His plan of salvation in a way that will capture our hearts.  No pedigree required. 

Logos is the Greek word for word that we find in John 1.  And while it does mean literally word, it also means reason.  The Greeks were really into reason.  John wanted to show that if we look at Jesus (the Word), we get to see into the very mind of God.  Jesus becomes the conduit into the unseen world.  Greeks believed already that the seen world is merely an imperfect shadow, or copy, of the world unseen.  Jesus brings the reality of the unseen into the seen.  He is the aletheia (the Green word for truth), reference later in John when Jesus says "I am the way, the truth, and the life."  

John's gospel has been named as a "spiritual gospel."  Written 70 years after Christ's death, John not only records the historical events and scribes Jesus' spoken words, but he is also able to expound into the meaning of Christ's words.

The historical event:  Jesus fed the 5,000.  Meaning:  Jesus IS the bread of life.

The historical event:  Jesus opened the eyes of the blind.  Meaning:  Jesus IS the light of the world.

The historical event:  Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  Meaning: Jesus IS the resurrection.

While this gospel seeks to reach the heart of John's new community (he wrote this in Ephesus), his words do resonate with the Jewish people, too.  The Jews knew the power of the spoken word.  Their entire way of life was based on an oral tradition passed down for generations.  All of creation was spoken into existence.  Spoken blessings could not be reversed, as we see what plays out between Jacob, Esau, and their father.

For both the Jew and the Greek, for you and for me, Jesus is the physical manifestation of the very heart of God.  The words He speaks illuminate God's pure, holy, and unchanging love for us.  There can be no contradiction between Jesus' words and the heartbeat of purpose God has for us.

As such, we see the power of the words we ourselves speak.  And I wonder this:

How many times have the words coming out of my mouth been a contradiction to what my heart so desperately wants?  Because I am imperfect, consistently plagued by impatience, fear, pride, and self-centeredness.  And simply, sometimes I just don't know the words that will convey the desires of my heart.  The words I utter have the exact opposite effect I want them to have.  It's happened with my friends, my husband, and my children.  Has this happened to you?

I find I routinely make this mistake with my oldest child in regards to her swimming.  The true desire of my heart is for her to participate in an athletic activity she enjoys to promote physical and social wellness.  And yet, before I can even think about it, small critical remarks cloaked in the aura of suggestion escape my lips.  Did you really try your hardest?  Did you push yourself enough?  What if you tried...My words, which have power, are not aligned with my heart and simply characteristic of language used in my upbringing.  I could trade all that gab for words that will fill her soul.  Something like "I just love watching you swim."

If you have a few moments, can you think of moments where your words don't match the true desires of you heart?  Will you share so we might relate and also offer encouragement to each other?

Linking this on Wednesday with Michelle, too!
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  1. Oh my stars! Can I ever think of a time? How many times would you like me to list?

    So thankful for David's prayer, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord." How I need to pray this daily.

    Joining up with you and the sisterhood after a long, long, long hiatus. So thankful for your faithfulness in providing this community :)

  2. I love your words, Jen. i love you and your voice, the way you speak truth in such a plain beautiful way. you have such a gift, my dearheart friend. <3

  3. "The words I utter have the exact opposite effect I want them to have. It's happened with my friends, my husband, and my children. Has this happened to you?"

    Uhm . . . yes! Most recently I can think of examples with my husband, who is more sensitive than I give him credit for. My words can be sharper than I realize, and I am just oblivious to any misinterpretation. I'm often caught off guard and I realize that constant need for grace.

  4. I really appreciate you digging into God's word on our behalf and sharing all these insights...esp the meaning of logos and truth...and also the application re:the need for our words to line up with God's truth...I am praying for my mind to be more like Christ's and that is when my words match His goodness... but alas when I am indulging in my own emotional responses to situations in my life...that is when my words don't measure up to His love and grace.

  5. Oh, my, Jen... I can relate...sometimes I wish I could catch those words before they escape way too quickly from my mouth...thankful my family shows me grace when I apologize...we all need grace...thanks for sharing your words study :)

  6. Oh, so much to think about here- love your explanation of John's gospel- I learned something new tonight! And those words that slip out without being filtered through my heart? Uggh... too many times to count. I am frightened by the power of a mama's words- and continually pray for God to "put a guard over my lips..." Always a gift to be here.

  7. Oh Jen, such beautiful words from your heart.

  8. Hi Jen! I bet you are a wonderful and enthusiastic teacher. All the things you great that you share what you know with all of us.

    Happy Tuesday!

  9. Jen, Our Bible Study is my favorite time of the week. You are such a blessing to me. I love how you share God's love and message for each of us. Thanks for all that you do as God's lovely, loving daughter.

  10. It's been too long since I've visited, Jen. I can't seem to keep up with life these days. I don't know how you do it all, my friend. Your passion for the Word is contagious. Isn't it a beautiful thing that no matter how long we study it, we can never get to the bottom? A living, breathing conversation. That's what it is. Happy day to you.

  11. Jen, I so appreciate you digging into the word here, as Ms. Kel says above. The book of John is so rich and your take on some of it makes me say 'aha!' all over again. Especially the part about the book of John being a new roadmap for us to find our way to God...jut because He loves us.
    I'm with Nancy F. above--how many times do my words not match my actions? Do I have to count?
    In those many moments, I rejoice in the love of God that went to the cross for me and redeemed me from my humanity--the parts of my life that don't match up with who God is.
    And then I thank Him for a new start again. And again. And again.


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