Friday: Psalm 87-88 & 1 John 1:1-4

From Charlie Glenn

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.  We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. [1 John 1:1-3 NIV]

Last Sunday, Mark took us through some of the evidence for the historicity of the accounts of the Resurrection, and its centrality for the first generations of Christians. We need to be reminded regularly that Christianity is a faith, anchored in our own experience but also in that of the earliest witnesses to God’s activity in the real world; not a religion or “spirituality” of escape from the world of material existence. 

God acts in history, and he acts in lives. The Incarnation affirms the decisive significance of life “in the flesh,” including what we do with our bodies (as Pope Francis has recently stressed), with our society (including politics), with our neighbor (including refugees from violence and from poverty), with our environment. The Resurrection is a promise that God cannot finally be defeated, nor can we. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” [Psalm 42: 5, 11; 43:5]

John’s first epistle – like his gospel – starts with an affirmation and a testimony: that God himself has entered directly into the sphere of human life, not simply as a spiritual experience but in the person of Jesus Christ, someone with whom the author had an actual human relationship, someone “we have looked at and our hands have touched.”

John expresses this in a curious way, describing Jesus as “the Word of life” and saying that “the life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it.” How can a person be described as “life”? Only if knowing and cleaving to that person is to have fellowship with God, and thus to have already entered into a glorious and eternal life “with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” This is the life into which we also have entered – messy and unsatisfying as our daily existence may seem – if we are living in the power of the Resurrection and in fellowship with our risen Lord. 

 

I’m just completing a book on how Islamic high schools across the US nurture citizens.