People sometimes make a comment such as ‘this is one of my favourite verses in the bible’ or ‘this is my favourite book of the bible’, I understand what they mean. There are always going to be sections that we have found meaningful, where we sense the Lord has spoken to us in some way, perhaps in some particular situation, I have had that experience and even noted the date and occasion in the margin as a reminder. These days though my favourite bit of the bible is almost always the bit that I’ve just read.
Right now I’m reading John’s gospel; I love it. I’ve read it before of course but each time I read it again I appreciate it afresh. Elsewhere in the gospels Jesus talks about a teacher who is able to bring new treasures out into view as well as the old and I find my experience of the bible just like this. I read passages that I may have read on many previous occasions and the wonder of their truth, relevancy and the unveiling of God’s love is so refreshing; it’s a bit like diving into a pool of cool, fresh water on a hot day. Sometimes though, I have times when I will see something completely new, a fresh insight, an unknown facet, an undiscovered quality of God and the relationship that He wishes to build with me that assaults all of my spiritual senses at once. This is much more akin to being engulfed by a waterfall, a cascade of the Father’s character. It can be an exhilarating experience, almost breath-taking in impact. Sometimes I begin to perceive the implications of what God is helping me to see and that, quite frankly, is where the really scary bit can start.
It’s at this point that I think we can all sometimes falter. You see God’s truth is not much good to us unless we allow it to work in us. The apostle Paul wrote that we were being changed to be more like Jesus and that is certainly the Holy Spirit’s desire as He reminds us of all that Jesus has said and done but there is some requirement on our part, we need to agree with what God is doing in our lives. Believe it or not, He doesn’t just turn up and start working in and through us unless He is invited and welcomed. It’s a relationship that requires mutual consent. God has already shown His willingness through sending Jesus, our job now is to not only respond but to remain responsive.
Over the next few months we will be looking at John’s gospel on some Sunday mornings. I really hope that you will not only hear all that people are sharing with you but also take the time to reflect on John’s gospel yourselves. If you do that allow what you sense God saying to activate your imagination about the things that He wishes to do in your life. Imagine that each conversation you have, each gathering you attend, each ‘chance’ encounter, anywhere, anytime is an opportunity to talk about or act upon something that God had either reminded you about or shown you anew. Imagine that. Imagine what God might do if we were all to present our days to Him in such a way. Are you imagining? Well, why don’t we all move just one step forward from that and move from imagination into action?