Friday, April 19, 2013

Becoming like Christ

The first chapter of the gospel of John is a beautiful introduction to his account of the life of Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. 

Centuries later, spiritual writer Henri Nouwen wrote in his book, "Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith", about a way that Christ becomes flesh in our day:

"Spiritual reading is food for our souls.  As we slowly let the words of the Bible or any spiritual book enter into our minds and descend into our hearts, we become different people.  The Word gradually becomes flesh in us and thus transforms our whole beings.  Thus spiritual reading is a continuing incarnation of the divine Word within us.  In and through Jesus, the Christ, God became flesh long ago.  In and through our reading of God's Word and our reflection on it, God becomes flesh in us now and thus makes us into living Christs for today.

"Let's keep reading God's Word with love and great reverence."

By reading God's word, the Bible, Nouwen says, we allow God's Word, or Jesus, to work in our hearts. As we learn scripture and garner encouragement from others who have written about their walk with God, Christ works within, molding and shaping us, changing us so that we become more like him. It's a life-long experience, a journey. We learn as we go.  Will you allow Jesus to shape you through the word? Will you allow Jesus to shine through you so that others may see him?

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