John 1:1-5,10-14 (NRSV)
1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people 5 the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it…
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
I want to ask you this morning, where do you stand when God shows up? …Where do you stand? …Do you reject him or accept him? you leave him out in the cold, or invite him into the home of your life? Where do you stand? Do you believe in him, or believe him to be a lie? Is he real to you, or is Jesus just another fairytale…just another story…or as a huge billboard just outside of New York City put it recently, is he just another MYTH that we tell every year at Christmas? Where do you stand?
Now I know most of you are looking at me this morning thinking, “well of course we accept him, of course when God shows up, we want to let him in.” But truth be told, its easy to say, but much more difficult to do. And truth be told, many of us this morning, from long time believers to first time church attendees, if we were to be honest with ourselves would confess, “yes I want to let him in, but yes I’m living like he’s a fairy tale.”
And so I am asking you this morning to be honest with yourself…where do you stand when God shows up? When Jesus becomes flesh…where do you stand, what is your reaction, how do you respond? Do you accept or reject this word made flesh that dwells among us?…
I really love how Eugene Peterson translates those very words in the message, instead of the “the word became flesh and dwelt among us, Peterson puts it this way “and the word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood.” Can you imagine being neighbors with Jesus? For some of us, that doesn’t sound like a bad scenario, but for others, Jesus is the neighbor you just don’t want.
When I was growing up as a teenager, we had dog named Rowdy. Rowdy was a small dog, especially compared to the Rottweiler that our neighbors right next door had. Now, you need to know that our house was only about ten feet away from our neighbors and you could stand in our kitchen, look out the window, and see straight into their dinning room. And everyday this huge, vicious looking black dog would stare out that dinning room window and bark at our house, like it was waiting to get us, like it was lying it wait for its prey.
One day, as I was walking my dog around the block, the evil Rottweiler was tied up in the neighbor’s back yard. As I cam around the corner of the house, he saw me and Rowdy. It started running straight toward us, but I wasn’t to scared, I knew it was tied up. I was waiting for it to get yanked back like the dog in the old foghorn leghorn cartoons. But, it never happened. It just kept coming. I picked my little dog up and began running. The Rottweiler kept at us, jumping up at me, trying to get my dog. Finally, we got away…but it wasn’t over yet.
A few days later, as I was getting ready to take Rowdy out again, the neighbors dog broke through their screen door, ran over to our house, and as soon as I opened the door, he was in our house, jaws locked around Rowdy’s little neck.
Many of us view Jesus as this kind of neighbor. We see him as this big cosmic dog out to get us. This big dog that’s out to hurt us, that’s out to destroy us. Waiting for the right moment to attack.
But the thing is, when Jesus moves into the neighbor hood, he doesn’t just move in down the street or next to us…he wants to move in with us! Into our lives, into our homes, into our jobs, our marriages, our families, OUR VERY BEING!!
In Revelation 3:20 we hear the words of Jesus proclaiming “Here I am, I stand at the door and knock.” I want to ask you this morning, when God shows up…when he shows up knocking on the door of your life…where do you stand? You see the word becoming flesh and dwelling among us as John explains it here, is the LOUDEST knock you can imagine and its not just a little tap, tap, tap, God is poundings and beating on our doors of life…he wants to come in…he wants to live with us…he wants to live in us…I want to ask you, where do you stand? What is your reaction? How do you respond when God shows up…knocking?
A couple of months ago Becca and I heard a loud knocking at our door, which is not extremely unusual except for the fact that it was 2am in the morning. I grabbed my flashlight, and my metal baseball bat, becca grabbed the cell phone ready to call 911. I went to the door and through the other side I could make out a figure of a man standing on our stoop. I walked to the door and didn’t even give the man a chance. I don’t know why he showed up, if he was in need, or at just the wrong house. My only thought was that he was there to rob us, so…I yelled through the door as loudly and as forcibly as I could, “YOU NEED TO LEAVE, YOU CANT BE HERE, YOU NEED TO GO NOW.” And at that, the man turned around, got in his car, and left.
I cant help but think that this is how many of us respond to God when He shows up knocking on the doors of our lives. He comes unexpectedly, at inconvenient times, we are uncertain of what he wants or what he might ask of us, and we are fearful if we let him in, he just might rob us of our lives, of our fun, of our joy…of ourselves…
And so I ask you…Where do you stand? What is your reaction? How do you respond…when God shows up… knocking on your door of life? Do you reject him or accept him? Do you view him as some pesky neighbor, a dog waiting to get ya, or a thief that wants to rob your life?
Or, maybe you react to God’s knocking kind of like Thidwick, the big hearted moose, the 1948 Children’s book by Dr. Suess. Thidwick, who lived in a herd “about sixty or more” , accepts a bug living on his antlers for free, because Thidwick has a big heart, and he wants to do the right thing, and to be a good host. Well, the bug tells a spider of the free housing, and both accept a “Zinn-a-zu” bird. The herd rejects Thidwick after the Zinnazu bird’s wife, a woodpecker, and four squirrels move in. But Thidwick, with his big heart, who wants to do the right thing and be a good host allows them to stay.
Soon after a bobcat and turtle settle, winter moves in, and although food is scarce, they refuse to let Thidwick travel to the other side of the lake. And Thidwick, with his big heart, who wants to do the right thing and be a good host allows them all to stay. Even more pressure hits the poor moose after three mice, a fox, a bear, and 362 bees move in on his antlers, but trouble switches thoughts fast after seeing hunters who “must get his head for the Harvard Club wall”.
When Thidwick is trapped and about to loose his head…he suddenly remembers that antler-shedding season has arrived. And Thidwick, with his big heart, who wants to do the right thing and be a good host…finally has his answer. His antlers fall off, he abandons his guests to their doom, he swims to the other side of the lake to rejoin his herd, and his antlers, along with all the former squatters, are stuffed and mounted on the Harvard room wall.
Now, you may be thinking, how in the world does this have anything to do with how we respond to God?? Well, many of us are just like Thidwick. We want to do the right thing, we want to be good hosts…and so when God knocks, we let him in, not because we want to, but because we are supposed to. We live in relationship with God out of obligation…not out of love. Kind of like a shotgun wedding.
This kind of relationship with God is like visiting the Biltmore. Built in the early 20th century by the Vanderbilts in Ashville NC, it’s a 135,ooo sq/ft home, with indoor pool and bowling alley attracts thousands of people every year, only you don’t have full access to the house. There are places you can’t go. Rooms are roped off. Furniture is off limits.
When we let God in out of obligation, its like saying ok Lord, you can come in, but this room, don’t go in there, these things over here, leave them alone. We let him in…but we really don’t want him there.
So I ask, where do you stand when God shows up…knocking on the door of your life? Do you reject him or accept him? Do you see him as a big dog waiting to attack, a thief ready to rob, or do you let him out of obligation with limited access to your life? Where do you stand?
John tells us that to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
You see, when God shows up…knocking on the doors of our lives…and we let him in, with full and unrestricted access to everything we have, everything we are…when we give him permission to search through our deepest darkest closets, to know our most guarded secrets…SOMETHING INCREDIBLE HAPPENS…God does not destroy us…HE RENEWS US ….God does not rob us HE FILLS US!! He fills us with love, and joy, and peace, and life. Everything we need, have needed, or will ever need…Jesus himself BECOMES!!!! If…we let him in.
When we freely and humbly allow God into our lives, into our homes, into our jobs, our marriages, our families, OUR VERY BEING…we won’t find a fairy tale…we find truth, we won’t find a big cosmic dog waiting to destroy…we find a merciful loving God waiting to forgive….we wont find a thief waiting to rob, but a generous and gracious God longing to fill us, and overflow us with his goodness!!
And God today…right here, right now…is knocking!! And he has been knocking for a very long time! As a matter of fact, God has been knocking since …the …beginning.
You see, John is doing something very interesting in this first gospel. Notice that the first three words John uses…in the beginning, are identical in every way to the first three words in Genesis 1…in the beginning. And john has done this on purpose. He is making a distinct and intentional connection back to Genesis 1.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was formless and void, and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep. The literally translation there in the Hebrew for formless and void…tohu and vohu…mean chaos and confusion…I really like how the message puts it…THE EARTH WAS A SOUP OF NOTHINGNESS, A BOTTOMLESS EMPTINESS, AN INKY BLACKNESS.
And john is making the connection to say that this is what our world is like right here…right now. It is full of chaos and confusion…life feels like nothingness, its full of emptiness…the world is overcome with darkness…as a matter of fact, those may be words that some of us use this very day to describe our very lives…BUT…GOD SAID LET THERE BE LIGHT…He spoke order in the chaos at the beginning, he spoke understanding into its confusion, he spoke light into its darkness, he spoke substance into its emptiness, and through Jesus Christ…THE LIGHT THAT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS…he does the very same thing today!!!!
He speaks love into lonely lives
He speaks restoration into broken relationships
He speaks purpose into desperation
He speaks fullness into emptiness
He speaks strength into weakness
He speaks provision into need
He speaks light into darkness
He speaks life into death
But before he speaks…he knocks
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
And so I ask you…where do you stand when God shows up…knocking?