Weekly Meditation: 1st January 2017
New Year is a time of looking back at what we have achieved and endured in the past year, and of looking forward, with some trepidation, to the year ahead. We shall certainly be facing some challenges, and it is with apprehension that we approach another year. These are particularly dark times for our nation and our world, with much economic uncertainty, civil unrest, the growth of terrorism, ecological disaster looming, the aftermath of devastating natural disasters such as the typhoon in the Philippines, and the apparently unresolvable war in Syria. In many nations, Christians are suffering persecution. As never before, we need light to guide and encourage us, and some solid ground for our feet.
The first chapter of John’s gospel provides just that. We see the vast timelessness of God, present ‘in the beginning’ (John 1:1). Our current concerns suddenly fall into perspective as we consider God’s power and majesty, transcending time and space, and of the timescale set for our salvation. Our saviour was there, even before time began; before he made us, God had plans for our future.
In his due time he entered our world to lighten our darkness and to save us (John 1:9).
Our world was not a hospitable place for Almighty God; he was not understood, not recognised, not received (John 1: 5, 10, 11), yet he came only with grace and truth, dwelling amongst us and revealing his glory (John 1:14).
The most amazing aspect of our salvation is the grace and privilege God bestows on us. To all who receive Jesus, and believe in his name, has been given ‘the right to become children of God’ (John 1:13). Because of his grace to us – giving us what we could never deserve or earn – we receive not just a gift, but a ‘right’ – something that can never be taken away from us, that is irrefutably ours. How much more certainty could we receive, that God loves us and has saved us, than that word ‘right’? How much more wonderful than the temporary forgiveness of sins, that could be achieved by keeping the Law, is the grace and truth that comes from Jesus Christ (John 1:17) who alone has made God known to us (John 1:18).
This message is reiterated in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Like John, he reminds us that we were chosen “before the creation of the world”, made “holy and blameless” (Ephesians 1:4), adopted as sons of God (1:5). Paul goes further, though, telling us that our redemption is through the blood of the saviour, and that our salvation has been ‘lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding’ by the ‘riches of God’s grace’. This is powerful and emotive language, ensuring that we do not miss the point that God loves us, and has gone to every length possible to save us. And, if we need further assurance that our future is safe in God’s hands, we have the solid ground that we are sealed with ‘the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.’ (John 1:14)
What more could we need as we enter a new year, than ‘the light of the world’ and a guarantee for our future?