Monday, December 3, 2012

From the Beginning

How do you start off your day? It seems many people contend that what you do first in the morning has a great impact on the rest of your day. Thus it follows that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." Not sure who came up with that one; I would fail that test.

How do you begin a new year? Or any new phase? Certainly there is something powerful about starting well so that you can end well.

This all makes sense when we remember perhaps the three main inherent desires that each of us has. We all long for a sense of significance/value, we all need relationship/community, and we all desire an understanding our destiny (where we're going) and origin (where we came from; how we began). We Christians would contend that these desires are satisfied in Christ.

So it's not ironic that the Apostle John would focus on this third element: the origin, the beginning.

It's obvious to see what appears to be a parallel between how John starts the letter now known as 1 John, and how he starts the Gospel that bears his name. And both of those remind us of the first words in the Bible:

What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we have observed
and have touched with our hands,
concerning the Word of life—
(1 John 1.1, HCSB, emphasis added) 

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
(John 1.1-2, HCSB, emphasis added)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1.1, HCSB, emphasis added)

Regarding the parallels, some have said that in 1 John, he is talking about the eternality of Jesus, the "Word of life." They might cite 1 John 2.13-14: "the One who is from the beginning."

Others say that John is referencing the beginning of the proclamation of the gospel message, the "word about the Life." They might quote 1 John 2.7; 2.24, or 3.11: "For this is the message you have heard from the beginning."

I believe that John was smart enough to do both at the same time. Listen to how he continues chapter one, after the first verse:

…that life was revealed,
and we have seen it
and we testify and declare to you
the eternal life that was with the Father
and was revealed to us—
what we have seen and heard
we also declare to you,
so that you may have fellowship along with us;
and indeed our fellowship is with the Father
and with His Son Jesus Christ.
(1 John 1.2-3, HCSB)

The beautiful way in which John works in both the eternal nature of God and the consistent message of His grace is the starting point of a short letter in which he reminds us of all the things that we can and should know.

On Sunday mornings at Fellowship we are working our way through the letter of 1 John this Advent season. It may not be at the top of everyone's list of obvious Christmas texts of Scripture, but maybe it should be. John starts off with the genuineness of the incarnation of Jesus. That is Christmas—the miracle of the birth of the Messiah.

If you live in our area, we hope you can join us. If not, you can listen to our podcasts. And we'll be sharing some thoughts here along the way.