Autobiography of Hope
In your autobiography, is the impact Christ has on you a passing paragraph or is the hope He brings the substance of your story?
How would you start your autobiography? Would it start at the climax of your story? Would it start with that 7th-grade spelling bee you lost because you forgot how to spell “flurries”? (I am not still bitter.) Where would you begin?
The Gospel writers begin their biographies in three ways: with a genealogy in Matthew and a genealogy with a bit of narrative in Luke, with a political statement in Mark, and John starts all the way back at the beginning of all things. How would you have started a biography of Jesus? All of these methods serve a purpose: to give credibility to the subject of their story, which is Jesus. And since, as far we know, Jesus never participated in a spelling bee, they could not have begun there.
A genealogy is a good place to start if your audience is concerned about a family lineage, a political statement is a good place to start if you need to set a tone early, and an explanation of creation is helpful if you are aiming to convince your audience that the subject you are writing about is the Omnipotent One. There are elements of all three of these things in all of the Gospel accounts, but the way you start a story is important. John did not haphazardly write, “In the beginning…” and have no idea where he was headed. He was concerned first and foremost with the fact that Jesus is the Word of God, who was there from the beginning and who created and sustained all things.
But what does that have to do with us? If Jesus indeed did create you and everything around you, how does that impact you? How does that impact me? How did some dude a couple of centuries ago write something that would still matter today?
The answer to that is simply: because of Christmas. The fact Christ came in flesh to us is the reason we have hope. John chooses to begin his biography with an image of God that is above what we are able to understand, and yet, the Omnipotent One came to us. This Christmas season, I have two challenges for you in light of John’s Gospel.
- Make an effort to be thankful for Christ’s humanity: that He came in the flesh and dwelt among us and that the tiny baby lying in a manger is worth celebrating but to also be thankful for His divinity, that He is above all things and created all things. It is the marriage of those two truths that give us hope and is the purpose of John’s Gospel.
- Do not be distracted by the things that are not true. John writes that Jesus is the true light and that people still did not recognize Him. There will be many reasons to get distracted this Christmas: food, gifts, anxiety, debt, travel, COVID-19. Yet, the fact remains that Jesus is the true light and the true source of joy in this holiday season.
So, back to your autobiography. In your autobiography, is the impact Christ has on you a passing paragraph or is the hope He brings the substance of your story? Following Christ is a challenge and if you have questions about how to walk more closely with Him do not hesitate to email any of us at the Church. Also, if hope is something that you are in short supply of this Christmas, we invite you to check out the Advent service on Hope.