What will last? 

Published 6:03 pm Friday, January 7, 2022

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By Charles Qualls

I wonder what there is that will last and that you can truly call your own? Let’s suppose you could call your home your own, if you bought it and paid for it. But someday, you’ll either sell it or someone else will own it after you.

I drive a paid-for car that we bought pre-owned. It’s a good car. It’s mine. However, it won’t last forever. If I live a few more years, I suppose I’ll be driving something else. I have this sweater that my parents gave me while I was still in school. It’s more than 30 years old. But one day a hole will develop, or I’ll snag it on something. I’ll stain it somehow. It’s lasted a long time, but it won’t last forever.

This week’s scripture passage was John 1:10-18, and it begs a question: Who is Jesus? Whenever we come to worship, we Christians are always asking in some form, “Who is God in Christ?”

On the surface, it reminds us of all that Jesus came into that was His. “Jesus came to what was His own,” we hear. That would be nice enough and important enough if that’s all that was there.

But when we dig more deeply, this same scripture causes us to ask some questions that are far bigger. The first 18 verses of John’s gospel is the prologue. We hear about the theology of Jesus. There’s no birth narrative, no personal insights into Jesus. From the outset we are told that Jesus is an expression of God’s own self.

Then in verses 10-18, he deals with what Jesus offers us to live our lives that will last. So if you summed it up another way, the question before us is: “What difference does Jesus make in our lives?”

The four gospels are full of information. All of it can get fascinating, and I love to geek out on it as much as anyone. But Jesus is far more than just information.

Jesus transforms us. In doing so, He also challenges us if we’ll allow Him. If you genuinely encounter Jesus, there is no way you can walk away the same.

We are just emerging from Christmas and into a brand-new year. Lillian Daniel, one of the more important voices in Christianity today, says, “The power of Advent is that we wait for what is to come, while already knowing that Jesus Christ was born to us.”

If we receive Jesus, we are given the ability to be children of God. It’s more than signing our name on a piece of paper. It’s more than just saying we’re saved.

Here is the message for a new year. Just after the Christmas celebration of the birth of Christ, we realize all over again that Jesus showed up because He came to what was His own. That’s what John affirms in verse 11. That’s all of us who choose to be called His own, who are willing to accept Him and to have our faith through Him, all who submit themselves to Jesus and truly let Him be our Lord.

I wonder what it might be like for us to discover why we were made? I wonder what it might be like for us in this new year to pay attention to God? To listen for why we were born. To ponder by what reasoning of grace God might have created us, and sent us uniquely to be a part of something God is doing?

The world rejected Him. But to those who received Him, they were given the power to become children of God. God communicates to us through the Word that became flesh, Jesus. That very Jesus came to His own.

Jesus’ teachings were dramatic. But when He came to us, He came for our transformation, not just to give us information. Information won’t last, ultimately. We can learn lots of things, but it’ll eventually fade or just all mush together in our minds. Transformation is a story that will tell itself, and it’ll keep telling its story long after we have passed from this realm.

What is there in your life that will last long beyond your time? Part of that depends upon you. Are you taking in religious information, or have you allowed transformation? Transformed lives tell their stories long beyond their earthly years. Transformed lives measure up to the “why” of Jesus’ arriving.