Thursday, August 28, 2014

No place like home

To the Jews who believed in Him Jesus said, “If you make My word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
John 8:31-32 Jerusalem Bible

Immediately upon hearing these words, argument and self-justification break out. Instead of attending to the first statement, the ‘if’ of Jesus’ word, His hearers latch on to the second statement, that in being His disciples ‘indeed’ they will be made free by the truth.

They take charge of the word He just spoke to them and immediately jump on it, assuming the worst, accepting it as an accusation or challenge to what they think they are. “We are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone! What do you mean…?”

Nothing has changed, not with the Jews who believed in Him (for those are the very people that He was addressing and who came back with an argument), nor with the modern Christians (who also say they believe in Him, as long as…). They too pass over the ‘if’ of Jesus' word. Instead, they focus on themselves, not on Him, not on what He is really saying.

What He is really saying they don't even hear. What He is really telling them is the straightforward path to discipleship and fellowship with Him, and they meet it with silence.

So, the silence of the Word is met with silence, with non-recognition, by those ‘who believed in Him.’

Who can receive the word of Jesus in silence, just as He speaks it, without the interference of the ‘believing’ but questioning mind?
For this defines a great divide, a great gulf which cannot otherwise be bridged, between what we are and what we think we are, what the Word declares and what we think it declares, between discipleship and our need to justify ourselves.

The call to discipleship is answered by a simple ‘Yes’ and, as Ignatios of Antioch writes in his letter to the church at Ephesos,

“a man who has truly mastered the utterances of Jesus will also be able to apprehend His silence, and thus reach full spiritual maturity, so that his own words have the force of actions and his silences the significance of speech. Nothing is hidden from the Lord; even our most secret thoughts are present to Him. Whatever we do, then, let it be done as though He Himself were dwelling within us, we being as it were His temples and He within us as their God. For in fact, that is literally the case; and in proportion as we rightly love Him, so it will become clear to our eyes.”
(Ignatios of Antioch, Ephesians, ch. 15)

For what does the Word Himself declare to us?

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We shall come to him and make Our home with him.”
John 13:23 JB

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