As we begin our journey through Lent, Christians throughout Columbia will be sharing their own beautifully written ‘letters from the heart.’ Each will be accompanied by a corresponding relevant scripture, and linked to sources for further study. If you would like to join us on Columbia’s Lenten journey, please send me your ‘letter from the heart’ by email. Especially meaningful submissions will be printed. Let us continue our Lenten journey, day by day, to its glorious culmination on Easter morning.
Today’s bible study is from the Gospel of John 12:44-50: Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
If Jesus came walking into Columbia, would we recognize Him? If He found His way to Trinity Cathedral Parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina and managed to get into the pulpit to announce the message about Himself and God that we find in John 12:44-50, how would we respond?
I pose this question for our consideration today because of a disturbing article I read not long ago in USA Today entitled, “God, Religion, Atheism. So What?” The article was looking at the increasing number of Americans who seem to be distancing themselves from religion. A professor of religion and public life at Trinity College, Hartford CT, said, “The real dirty little secret of religiosity in America is that there are so many people for whom spiritual interest, thinking about ultimate questions, is minimal.”
Among the new findings of sociological researchers, 46% told a 2011 survey by Nashville-based evangelical research agency LifeWay Research they never wonder they will go to heaven. 19% told the Baylor University Religion Survey, “It’s useless to search for meaning.” A person at the Barna Group, a Christian research firm said, “I think Jesus is getting lost in the data stream.”
Jesus doesn’t sound the least bit lost to me. In this passage from John He is speaking just before the events of Holy Week begin. He is concluding His ‘earthly ministry’ and wants all to know that He came to save and not to judge, to love rather than to marginalize. He describes Himself in Epiphany terms as ‘light into the world.’
The research cited in the article I noted above speaks, to me, of a very murky world, a world in need of all the light it can get! Where will this light come from? I think the best possible source of this light is…us. Our Baptismal Covenant points the way: We’re strengthened for the task as we ‘continue in the apostles teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers’ Thus equipped, we can proclaim with our very lives ‘the Good News of God in Christ’ as we ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself.’ If we persist I believe we will discover that Jesus is the heart and the center of the data stream!
Interim Dean, Trinity Cathedral
Columbia, South Carolina
If you enjoyed this Lenten meditation, you can find more at Sharon's Columbia Biblical Studies Examiner homepage