December 29, 2015


John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

I think the first chapter of John is one of the most glorious passages in all human literature. Choosing a verse to write on is no easy task! However, this verse includes a translation difficulty that is important to notice. The Japanese here agrees with the traditional English translation, that is, “The darkness has not overcome it.” However, the NIV and some other modern translations say “has not understood it.” That brings to mind a difficulty in translation between Japanese and English that has caused some real problems in various international negotiations. When Japanese say, “We want you to understand our position,” an emotionally accurate translation would be, “We want you to agree with our position.” Japanese society values consensus very highly, and Japanese meetings seem interminable to Westerners, because they will talk until a consensus is reached. (In other words, until the hold-outs give up to get along.) There is no emotional understanding of, “I understand you completely, but I don’t agree with you.” When the Greek language is at the root of much Western philosophy, I wonder if there isn’t a similar conflation between “understand” and “overcome.” That said, those who walk in darkness really can’t understand those who walk in the light, nor can they overcome them. Even to the point of martyrdom, those who are in Christ Jesus are overcomers. (Romans 8:37) That’s why Jesus could say, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) This is simple but not simplistic. Life on this planet can be very complicated and difficult! However, those who are in Christ know that this world, and the devil who is in it, do not have the final say. Christ has overcome death itself, and those who are in Him share in His victory.

I cannot write on this without thinking of Corrie ten Boom, who was a shining proponent of Christus Victor theology. Some people poo-poo that as simplistic, but it carried Corrie through circumstances that would probably cause her opponents to crumble completely! I am in a very different struggle, but at times I think it is no less intense. I need to be firmly settled on the reality that I have no strength or wisdom of my own that will do me any good, but that Christ has all the strength and wisdom that could ever be needed. As He has told me, I need to rest, relax, and rejoice in Him, not being passive but certainly not being anxious. I’m in an intensive curriculum in that area! I need to remember at all times that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world, (1 John 4:4) and rejoice! (There’s a reason John is the New Testament character, other than Jesus, I would most like to emulate!)

Father, thank You for the assurance of victory. Help me rest in that, not letting circumstances shake me but resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in You indeed, so that I may give the devil nothing, but rather walk in all that You intend for me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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About jgarrott

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