Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla
Text: John 1:1
O.T.: Jeremiah 31:7-14
N.T.: John 1:1-18
New Year’s is a time we’re flooded with words. Parade commentators, football commentators, political commentators, and social commentators spin the meaning of events with endless verbage. Family gatherings, community events, and neighborhood parties share stories and light-hearted humor as we enjoy the arrival of a New Year. This is the season of words.
Words contemplate reflections on the past, and predictions for the future. They express disappointment and grief, ecstasy and joy. They portray grace or condemnation. They’re powerful indicators of the quality of life we are living.
In 1994, two social scientists, Cliff Nortarius from Catholic University and Howard Markman from the University of Denver, completed a decade long study of newly weds. They discovered that among those couples who remained married, only five percent of their conversations criticized each other at the beginning of their relationships. However, among couples who later divorced, ten percent or more of their talk was critical of each other at the beginning at their marriage. It was only five percent more than those who stay married. But that five percent difference was gigantic. Within a decade of their wedding, divorced couples accelerated their critical comments of each other five times more than those couples who remained married.
There is great power in words.
Words not only indicate what we think about life’s quality, they create quality living. Several years ago, I noticed a common trait among church couples who were married over 50 years – they prayed together. They not only prayed for their family, they prayed for each other. They were renewed by daily prayers that sought God’s blessing for their spouses. There is power in prayerful words. But there is special power when our prayers are blessings being offered for our spouses.
They bring about healing and hope when life is difficult. Words that are blessings convey new life when we’re discouraged. They not only reflect how we view the world from our relationship with God, they show others how we value them. Praying for each other is invaluable for giving our spouses, our children, and our families security.
As influential as our words are, God’s Word is even greater.
The Gospel of John’s opening verses identify Jesus Christ as “The Word.” Christ is God’s Word that was created as a human being and lived among us. The source of life’s quality is the living Word – Jesus Christ.
The Greek term for “Word” is “Logos.” Five hundred years before Jesus Christ, the Greek philosopher, Hereclitus used “logos” to describe the source of the universe’s order. Later, Greek Stoics used “logos” to describe the force that animates life. Both uses of the word “logos” were employed by early Christians to describe Jesus Christ.
The Gospel of John declares Jesus Christ was the animating force of creation itself. He is the source of life on earth. His life reveals the living God’s essence. His teaching is the living God’s wisdom. His resurrection inspires life’s animation. Christ was present at creation as the Word of life.
John isn’t content with earlier Christian declarations that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. He isn’t content saying that Christ became God at His baptism, His birth, or His conception. Jesus Christ is co-eternal with the Creator God. His teaching, His living, His resurrection reveal God who created and ordered the universe at the beginning of life.
A great challenge facing the Church today is taking God at His Word. Jesus’ teachings are more than spiritual advice that is ignored while we listen to the cacophony of the modern world’s sound. When Jesus’ teaching rises above the world’s voices for us, we will focus our lives on studying His teaching in depth. Jesus’ teaching gives new life.
The problem many Christians have is not studying his teaching in depth. They rely on superficial slogans that lack a full understanding of Christ’s direction for navigating modern living. Having a deep under-standing of Christ’s teaching is our first priority in taking God at His Word.
The second great challenge facing the Church today is taking God at His Word. Jesus’ life is more than an impossible ideal to be admired. You aren’t simply meant to admire the life of Christ – the compassion, the self-sacrifice, the simplicity by which He lived. God’s Word in Christ is the only way for you to live.
Jesus isn’t an intellectual ideal. He’s life itself. When we live Christ-like lives, we will not just sound like a Christian. We will be Christians by imitating Christ and modeling His wisdom for life. We will show others how to integrate His wisdom with real life experience. We will show others that Christ’s teachings are not impossible ideals. They are the meanings to being contented and joyful, day in and day out, year in and year out. Living Christ’s teachings is God’s Word to us.
The third great challenge facing the Church today is taking God at His Word. Jesus’ resurrection is more than a doctrinal truth to be taught. The Word became flesh and died upon the cross for our sins lives among us daily. The grace of Christ that comes from the resurrection inspires your decisions, your actions, your words that show your gratitude to God. The Word of God’s grace through the resurrection monitors and intervenes to correct you so that you show the compassion, humility, and gratitude that display His grace to the world. Living a resurrection-based life of grace and gratitude is God’s Word to us.
The Word builds life. It does not tear down His people. The Word animates His people who hear it, follow it, and live it. The Word that dwells among us recreates us everyday – giving us new life.
The path to a new zest for life, a revitalized faith, and inspired living comes from taking Christ as the source of your creation. When His Word is your Word, there’s a harmony between Himself and you that inspires others to find Jesus Christ.
When His Word is our Word as a congregation, there’s a harmony among our faith community that’s evident in our yearning for deeper spirituality around Jesus Christ. When His Word is THE Word, the power of God’s new creation is experienced in the dynamic life we live together as a testimony to Jesus Christ as Lord.
The world needs God’s Word. It doesn’t need our opinion, our political perspective, nor our emotional eruption. The world needs God’s Word – the Word that became flesh and dwelled among us, full of grace and truth.
It is our responsibility to give the world what it needs. It needs God’s Word. Give it to the glory of Jesus Christ and see what he does!