April 7, 2015

John 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Hundreds of at least nominally Christian books are written every year, but if this is not the underlying motive behind them, they are at best fluff and at worst divisive distractions. Since God is infinite and we are not, it is no surprise that people continue to find plenty to write about in relation to Him, but sadly, some of that is largely to push a particular theological position, adding heat but not light to the discussion. Theological insights do need to be shared clearly, but in all humility, and always with the motive expressed in this verse. I see ads all the time for books and seminars that reek of division and strife, not lifting up Christ but rather human ideas and positions. There is so much evil in the world, and yet people spend their time and energy splitting theological hairs! I keep coming back to the observation of my Systematic Theology professor, Dr. John Kewiet. As a young man in Holland at the time of the Nazi invasion he was captured and put in a labor camp, but he managed to escape. He spent the rest of WWII, as he put it, “dodging American bombs and Nazi bullets.” During that period he saw a church deacon literally knock women and children to the ground so that he (the deacon) could get into a bomb shelter first. That convinced him that if our theology doesn’t affect the way we live, it is meaningless. In the same way, if what we say and write doesn’t lead our hearers and readers more and more into the life that is found in Jesus Christ alone, it is meaningless.

As a pastor/teacher who writes, this is something I had better keep in mind! I am certainly not against non-religious writing, but at the very least I must be careful that what I write would not pull or push people away from Christ. When the Lord opens His Word to me day by day, morning by morning, it is certainly not wrong to share that with others. However, if I do so out of pride, seeking to inflate myself in some way, then I have negated any benefit that I, at any rate, might receive from the process. I must always write from a profound humility that I am as much in need of the truth I share as anyone. I certainly am not to attack those who see things differently, but rather speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15-16) so that as many as possible may be led into the intimate fellowship with Christ for which we were created.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the speaking engagement I have next month. I feel like You’re saying I’m to use this passage as the basis for that message. Guide me in being fully prepared. Thank You that my school teaching for the new term starts today. My classes have nothing to do with religion overtly, but I will be the clearest representation of Christ that most of those students will have seen, to this point at any rate. I pray that even as I teach medical English and speech therapy that I would be communicating Christ, drawing my students to desire and receive life in Him, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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