2016: A New Beginning1
If you’ve ever been trapped in a hotel room and a man named Gideon had been there first and you opened the book he left behind, you would find on the first page these words:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
The poem that follows these words details the beautiful (and orderly!) account of the creation of all that is! After five days of creation, we read
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Perhaps we’re so familiar with these words that we miss how profoundly revolutionary they are… that the God of the universe has created us - little ol’ us - in HIS image!
Of course, if you were to read on in that book that Gideon left behind, you’d soon uncover bad news, as well. That though humanity was created in God’s image, that image has been spoiled because we have turned away from our Creator. The continuing pages of the Hebrew Scriptures detail all those ways we have turned away - ruining our reflection of God’s image.
All that makes it so incredible how the Gospel of John begins:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Talk about a new beginning!
Notice these powerful phrases: “In the beginning was the Word,” “Through Him all things were made,” “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” and “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” What a perfect passage for a new year!
Beginning today, we’re digging into John’s Gospel, allowing it lead us in a new beginning for a new year. As we will see, John’s gospel is not a mere historical account of Jesus’ life - it is a historical account of Jesus’ life that is meant to encourage all people to believe in Him. As it is said of John the Baptist:
He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.
That phrase inspires the title of our series: “That You Might Believe.” As we dig into the Gospel of John, may our faith in Jesus be reaffirmed, and may we be inspired to share that faith with others, that they too might believe!
Happy New Year!