Life, Light and Union – Stuart Johnson

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The Bible is probably the most contentious book in human history.  It draws the most intensive attention from both believers and nonbelievers alike.  As many as 30000+ denominations depend on the Bible for their unique view on the gospel.  Whatever is said is validated by the Bible.  Using the very same Bible other denominations will either agree in principle or disagree entirely.  The Bible never points to itself as the means for a close relationship to God.  Like John the Baptist, the Bible is primarily a witness to Jesus Christ.  Then again, a careful navigation of what we mean when we say the name Jesus Christ makes all the difference in how we read the Scriptures.  If we read the Scriptures with the view that in them we find eternal life, the we miss the whole point of the Bible.  Eternal life is found in the Person of Jesus Christ that in and with Him we know for ourselves the Father as the Son knows the Father.

Reading the Bible without a focus on Jesus Christ is like travelling a multi lane highway with multiple turn offs trying to work out which way and which turn off will lead to life.  When we meet Jesus Christ as the one who mutually dwells in the Father and the one who mutually indwells in us, then we find that in Him our minds are placed on the narrow path that leads to life.  We no longer know God from multi lane highway of the world’s endeavour to be blown about by one doctrine against another.  We no longer yield to temptation of empty promises of health, wealth and power.  Instead we are drawn to the personal promise of God whose greatest reward is God Himself revealed in Jesus Christ.  Therefore, the goal of Scripture is to meet the Person, the ground upon which Scripture was written and its end goal, Jesus Christ.

John 5:39-40

You search the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life. 

Once we go to Christ, we have life expressed in the abundant relationship He has included us in between Himself and the Father.  This seamless connection can be seen in the face of the Father.  This we have purely as a gift of loving kindness.

Before I became a believer, the Bible meant nothing to me at all.  I would not have any problems with tearing it apart or burning it in front of Christians.  The Bible in itself only means something to those whose eyes have been opened by the Spirit to the truth.  It is not that it has truth in itself but merely is a witness to the truth.  When we read the New Testament, we discover the plan before the foundation of the world has come to fruition.  Particularly in the Gospel of John, we find we are able to engage with the Master Planner firsthand as He unveils to us the whole purpose of God.

Once we meet the Person, we find assurance even though there might be much we do not understand.  Our past old way of thinking still tends to wage war with the security we find in Jesus Christ.  When the eyes of my heart were fully opened to the Triune God it was at this time everything fell into place all by itself.

I’ve been having a go at installing a winch in our car’s bullbar.  The winch itself weighs 27kg which is around 60 lbs.  A mounting plate is removed from the bottom of the bullbar and the winch is lifted up from underneath and into the inside.  So that I can work hands free while I place the mounting plate back into position, I wedged the winch inside the bullbar and secured it allowing enough room to place the mounting plate back into position.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  The plate is 5mm or 1/4 inch thick steel plate around about 45cm or 18″ long and around about 20cm or 8 inches wide.  It took me about an hour of unsuccessful attempts of trying to put about in.  I was hot, frustrated and tired.  Just as I was about to give up and think about removing the whole bullbar from the car to instal it, the plate slipped out of my hands and fell perfectly into place.  I was shocked.  I thanked my late Dad for all those years for his mechanical advice and I also thanked my Father.  It might not be a big deal to some but this was nothing short of a miracle to me.  This is what happens when we grapple with theology.  When there appears to be no answers, everything suddenly falls into place and in most cases, we realise we have done nothing to make it happen.

To secure the winch, all I had to do was to place 4 bolts through the mounting plate into the winch.  Should be easy, right?  Two bolts went in without a problem.  No matter how hard I tried, the other two bolts would not go in.  I spent a good 90 minutes trying everything to make it secure enough so my wife could go to a very important appointment.  In the end I had to take a risk and partially secure it to allow my wife to go.  While she was gone, I was able to sit and think about it.  As I had carried out a test mount on the winch on the plate prior to lifting it into place to make sure the mounting holes were in the right place, there is no reason why they should not line up inside the bullbar.  After my wife returned, I decided to go in another order of putting everything back together again.  I put on Lynard Skynard very loud on my car and started again. This time, the bolts lined up.  With the potential pulling weight of 5400kg or 12000 lbs, a winch installation has to be 100% spot on to use it safely in a retrieval situation.  A winch compatible bullbar is designed in such a way to give security and strength for winch use only if it is installed correctly and securely.

Theology has the same precision when it comes to finding a secure and strong statement of beliefs.  Jesus Christ is the touchstone for all the ways and works of God.  Furthermore, it is how we understand the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Father and His relationship with us.  There is union all the way through that gives us the strength and security to be able to navigate our way through the challenges placed before us by objectors and by the challenges of life itself.  This union is 100% and throughout.  If we take a step back at any point then we risk undermining this most vital and important relationship in the entire universe.

Separation is integrated into our whole way of modern life.  When we start to see things things from the standpoint of union it causes  a short circuit in our natural way of thinking.  Yet, when we look into the world we live in, the only way we can understand the whole is to understand the parts in relation to one another.  Light, mass, energy and gravity are all interrelated to one another.  Light is the overall constant in our universe where I believe all things are somehow connected with it.  In John, Light and Life are spoken of synonymously in and with Jesus Christ who uses these terms in reference to Himself.  If we are to take union seriously in Trinitarian theology, then we can only see that in all things He created has His Life in it.  Even a rock on the ground is contingent upon the One who enabled it to be there.  Gravity holds it in place.  For it to be moved, some form of energy must be exercised  which is also contingent upon Jesus Christ.  As soon as we find a break in this relationship and speak separation, then this has to be mediated by someone other than Jesus Christ.

Jesus says, I am the Way the Truth and the Life and I am the Resurrection and the Life.  Yet our minds cannot fully grasp what this means.  In the latter statement, a man who was dead three days was raised to life.  Light and Life caused a dead man to live and move and have his being restored.  There are many cases where the miraculous acts of Jesus Christ were shockingly inexplicable.  This life He has is beyond our capacity to understand and take in.  This Life is integrated throughout all that He created is the truth declared at the beginning of John but it is the truth which is far bigger than us.  When we see beauty in the world around us in amongst the suffering of our human lives, our Creator and His life is somehow mysteriously interconnected with it.  This makes our journey through life one where Jesus Christ gets bigger and bigger and our faith and hope gets stronger and stronger.  How is it that I see such beauty in the desert of our Australian Outback?  I believe it is only because the Life and Light of Jesus Christ penetrates all things making insignificant things enormously significant.  When we arbitrarily decide what union means and start to break up the integral nature of the Light and Life of Jesus Christ, this has the potential to impact the very gospel itself.