The Gift of Life in the Gospel of John Print

Fotolia 56327284 XSChristians value human life differently than the secular world and Marianne Meye Thompson put a spotlight on the reason for the difference in her Bible Study, August 19th at the National Gathering of the Fellowship Community in San Diego, CA.

Thompson, Professor of New Testament at Fuller Seminary, pointed to the theme of life and the meaning of life throughout the Gospel of John. That theme is encapsulated in John 3:16.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

"Eternal life," is not merely future promise but is "knowing Jesus (and God through knowing him) as a present reality." John begins his gospel by telling us that Jesus is with God at the beginning of life.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." –John 1:1

The truth that Jesus was present at creation has powerful implications for us throughout our lives. Thompson points out that "God who raises us to life at the end is the same God who gives us life in the beginning – who creates us." John 1:14 teaches us that Jesus "became flesh," entering our world, becoming one with us as he is already one with the Father. In John's telling of the blind man who was healed Thompson says we learn, "This One who created the world, who created light, is the light of the world and the One who gives man the light of seeing. The One who created life is one who raises all to life. Everything that has life has life from God."

John records Jesus' words in 10:10,

"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

Jesus speaks from a perspective that "looks back to creation and forward to eternal life." This abundant life includes the "grace upon grace that we have received as John records in 1:16. That abundant grace is evident in Jesus' very first miracle when there was "more than enough wine." Abundant grace is also evident when "12 baskets of food remain" after the feeding of the multitude. It is, emphasizes Thompson, – "not a stingy grace." It is "life fully given to world by the God of all life." Jesus is the One who both "creates and sustains the world."

These truths have impact for our "ethic of life," says Thompson. Because God is a living God, "to do the work of God is to sustain, nurture, and do things that lead to life, not death." "The Church's mission is to work to cultivate abundant life, seriously and persistently." Thompson described our lives as being lived out "under an ark" that is anchored at its two ends by "Creation and Eternity." This should cause us to "examine our work in care of creation and in care for the unborn."

This perspective also has importance for how we view the mission of the Church. "The One who created all the world (concrete manifestations) became flesh among us. God wants to bring people to faith in Jesus." The Church is to manifest the life of Christ to the world. Like Jesus the Church is best when it does all that it does without regard to response. In fact, Thompson reminded, Jesus warned that if the world hated me it will also hate you (Jn 15:18-19). We can anticipate that we will often be ignored. "Life giving work does not breed gratitude."

Jesus was not only representing his own love for us in giving his life but he was doing the will of the Father and revealing the Father's love for us and the Father's desire that we have life abundantly.

"I can do nothing on my own. . .because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me." –John 5:30

"God's will," said Thompson, "is to give life to his world whom he loves so much."

Education resources for teaching a biblical perspective on all of life

"Created, Loved, and Called" a video series from Presbyterians Pro-Life teaching a Christian perspective from which to make life affirming, God honoring decisions.

A Firm Foundation: Abortion and the Christian Faith a booklet by Presbyterians Pro-Life setting out our biblical foundation for defending innocent life.

Pregnant with Promise a Bible Study on the character of God as revealed in the pregnancy stories of the Bible.