John 3:14-21 Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
Reflection If God is God, in and of, with and for all things, that means God is not other than us. Though we are not God, we are not, not God either. Nothing separates us from God. Nothing separates God from us which means our image of ourself is not other than our image of God. Conversely, our image of God is not other than our image of ourself. Humanity and God are intimately interwoven. We cannot be torn apart.
Which brings us to face the questions, “What is my image of myself? What is my image of God?” It really does not matter which question we begin with because we cannot tease the two apart. Let’s begin with our image of our selves. When we see ourselves as a disappointment, not measuring up or fundamentally not good enough by implication we are seeing God as displeased, demanding and disengaged; God the judge. By contrast, when we see ourselves as dependable, devoted and desiring God by implication we see God as trustworthy, loving and true, God the benevolent. The thing is, just like our image of our selves, our image of God is not etched in stone. It is up to us to choose the image with which we want to live.
When we choose to believe in a harsh and judgmental God we have every reason to remain in the shadows, hoping against hope that miraculously we will be transformed into something acceptable, unless of course we reject God entirely. But if we chose in favor of a sympathetic, life-giving God then we can dare to reveal ourselves, step out of the shadows into the light. The moment we do this we are set free, free from the shackles of a shameful self image, free to claim the truth of our identity with God.
At the same time every one of us has some skeleton in the closet, some secret or foible we fear to expose about ourselves. For as long as we keep this hidden we remain prisoners of the darkness. But when we choose to bring our deepest truth into the light we are seen in the light of God’s love, love that does not condemn us but counsels us to choose life in the light of God.
Who we are is defined by our choices. In John’s gospel text Jesus counsels Nicodemus and us to choose, choose to believe. The thing is, belief is not a commodity that we mine like copper or grow like corn. Belief is not something we can find or buy or bargain for. Belief is a state of mind in which we choose to accept something as being true or existing without any empirical evidence to prove it with factual certainty.*
What we believe really matters because what we believe guides our action and determines whether we live in the darkness or in the light. For as long as we believe that we are fundamentally flawed, not good enough or cannot measure up, we will hate the light and avoid the light because we do not want our shameful self to be exposed. But when we choose to believe that we are essentially good, we will seek and love the light and let our selves be exposed in the light “so that it may be clearly seen that (our) deeds have been done in God.”
The light and life and love of God is in and of, with and for all of us. Do you choose to believe?
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* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belief/accessed March 9, 2018.