It Is One Thing To Believe This Truth, And Another To Actually Live A Life Aligned To It

This is one of the most beloved passages in the New Testament. And it is easy to see why. For those who believe, this statement is a source of pure joy. We did not deserve such a kindness, such a magnanimous gift. That God could do such a thing stuns us with unspeakable joy and humble thanks. To contemplate a love this great love overwhelms us with gratitude…and responsibility. “To whom much is given, much more is expected.” (Luke 12:48)

“Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” This is the truth. But believing involves so much more than a mental or verbal affirmation of this truth, doesn’t it. It is easy to say “I believe,” but it is a wholly other thing to live one’s life as if that belief was the core and purpose of your every word and deed. The truth has been placed before us in Jesus Christ. He is the gift of love that God made to the world, to each and everyone of us. If we truly believe, we will show our thanks by sharing that love with others in our daily lives. We will live that love in our homes, with all of our neighbors, our co-workers, and with those who are the least among us. Why should it be any other way? Jesus came for us in our suffering and in our weakness. This, then, is what we are to do as well.

In Jesus “a light has come into the world.” (verse 19) God made us free. He gave us our free will and he does not take that away from us. Choice is always before us. Some refuse to see the light, the truth that has come into the world as a free gift. Those who choose to do evil hate the truth of that light and will not accept it, or come out into it, for they are driven by fear and arrogant pride, rather than by the humble joy that comes with faith in God’s love. Because they know at some deep level they are wrong, they do what they do in the dark and avoid the light fearing their “deeds will be exposed.” (verse 20)

But those who have come to believe and choose to live by the light of this truth, do everything in the full light of day, out of humble thanksgiving. Those who believe are recognized by the love that they have for others and for God’s creation. They give without expecting in return. They forgive and do not condemn. They suffer for and with those who are the least among us. They work for justice and peace in this world darkened so much by evil. They do so with joyful courage and humble generosity. Those who believe are obvious to all others for their attitudes of faith, hope, and love. They do not go about wearing looks of dower seriousness. Rather, because they are so charged by joy, they bring the light of faith, hope and charity to everything they do, to everyone they know and meet, and to every place they enter. To believe in God’s infinite love, made flesh in Jesus Christ, is to be a person of unquenchable joy.

Lord, we believe, help our unbelief. Help us to express our faith in you by living our lives out of genuine love. Make of us your joyful instruments of faith, hope, and love in our daily lives. Your gift of your only Son to us deserves our commitment to love others as you loved us. In serving you we find our truest meaning and purpose. In this we find our joy. Be with us, Lord. Shine your light into the dark places of our lives and this world through our free and willing acts of love and mercy. We desire to be your good and faithful servants in all that we do. We pray all of these things in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.