this went thru my mind

Japan. Four questions and four posts. (1) How do Japan’s religions confront tragedy? It’s only a brief answer, but How Japan’s Religions Confront Tragedy is a start. (2) Is there any word regarding Churches of Christ in the area affected? Read Prayers needed for ‘quite desperate’ situation in Japan, former missionary says. (3) Does this sort of calamity mess with your beliefs? Read Dan Bouchelle’s excellent post entitled Why the Tragedy in Japan Doesn’t Shake My Faith in a Loving God and (4) Where are all these wingnuts coming from saying this disaster was some sort of deliberate message from God? Answer: the same place they always come from. Dan Gilgoff, CNN’s religion editor’s piece entitled Six other calamities blamed on divine retribution reminds us so.

Evangelism. Three posts. The first is the second part of a mini-series by Terry Rush that I noted recently entitled Breathe Evangelism (2). The second post is for all who have ever encountered resistance to Hispanic ministry and suspected that some hybrid of nationalism and racism could be at the root of it. Read Timothy Archer’s Evangelism and Nationalism. The third is an even harder-hitting question on what we’re really most interested in when it comes to evangelism and the question of numbers: Open Mic: Why So Little Impact?

Church. Two posts. (1) I’ve always enjoyed Eugene Peterson’s definition of “church” and it was good to see it out there for all to see again. Read Eugene Peterson defines ‘church.’ George Guthrie’s post What I Learned From House Churches in Asia will keep you humble and make you ask why we do what we do with church here in America.

Tech. Two posts. Respectively, one to help keep you from losing your mobile mind and a second to tell you where your mind is going (it’s a chart of relevant stats and it is a “must see”). Here they are: (1) Nine Ways to Keep Your Mobile Devices Secure While Traveling and (2) Multitasking: This is Your Brain on Media.

Staying with it. And here’s a post in a league of its own. If you read nothing else, read Jim Martin’s 5 Questions to Ask Before You Quit and pass the link along.

quality of life

Starting with today’s reading in the Fresh Bread project (John 1-3) we’ll spend virtually the rest of our time in in the writings of John. John loves to talk about the “life” we experience in Christ and his favorite phrase to describe that life is “eternal life.” However, what John means when he says “eternal life” is probably not what comes to mind for most of us when we hear those words. While we tend to think of “eternal” has referring to a quantity, John uses the phrase “eternal life” to refer not to a quantity, but to a quality of life. He says so himself here:

You gave him authority over everyone so that he could give eternal life to everyone you gave him. This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent. (John 17:2-3 CEB)

What is “eternal life?” To John, it doesn’t mean “to live forever with God,” but to truly “know … the only true God and Jesus Christ.”

Now as you go through John’s Gospel and you encounter the phrase “eternal life” again and again, understand it as referring to a quality of life. Take for example these two passages in our reading for today:

… so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. (John 3:15-16 CEB)

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever doesn’t believe in the Son won’t see life … (John 3:36a CEB)

Did you notice how Jesus speaks of “eternal life” as something we “have” in this present life? “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” As people who have stepped into life with Christ, we have stepped into a quality of life – starting here and now – that we were created for from the beginning: a vital, living relationship with God. We know God!

Turn that thought over and over in your mind as you notice more of John’s use of the phrase in John’s Gospel. I’ll make it easiser for you by including some of them here:

… whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life. (John 4:14 CEB)

I assure you that whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and won’t come under judgment but has passed from death into life. (John 5:24 CEB)

Don’t work for the food that doesn’t last but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Human One will give you. God the Father has confirmed him as his agent to give life. (John 6:27 CEB)

This is my Father’s will: that all who see the Son and believe in him will have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. (John 6:40 CEB)

I assure you, whoever believes has eternal life. (John 6:47 CEB)

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. (John 6:54 CEB)

I give them eternal life. They will never die, and no one will snatch them from my hand. (John 10:28 CEB)

Now let me ask you: what does this understanding of “eternal life” do for your understanding of being a Christian? What does it do for you in terms of humility, confidence, security, and joy, to name just a few?

That’s what I thought!

Let’s pray.

Father God in heaven, all glory and praise be to you! Look what you’ve done for me! You’ve taken my being, my existence, and have completely transformed it by drawing me closer and closer to yourself. I know you! And this becomes more and more a fact with every day I walk with you and your Son. Words are not adequate, Father, but these words I have for you in the name of Jesus: thank you, thank you, thank you! Amen.