A few years ago I flew into the modern airport of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I had never met Ayele, the young man who would become my friend and partner over the next couple weeks, as my guide and assistant in ministry. Though we had written back and forth many times, we hadn’t worked out our meeting at the airport. I knew he would greet me as I came out of the terminal, but how would I recognize him? No worries, he would recognize me—I would stand out as a lone Caucasian among the noble and handsome Ethiopians!
Several years before this, two young Filipino women, MJ and Ruchell, were sent out from our school in the Philippines to Thailand. They fit right in among the Thais, often mistaken as being Thai. People would speak to them, but they couldn’t understand the Thai language. They looked like the Thais because they were of a nearby culture and people, unlike me in Ethiopia or Asia.
If God were to come down to earth, what would you expect Him to look like? You’ve probably seen pictures portraying Jesus. I’ve seen paintings of Jesus from China and Japan, and He looked very Asian in them. In western countries, He looks more Scandinavian than of Semitic descent. When we imagine another place or person, we draw on what is familiar to us. When visiting another place or meeting a person for the first time, the real experience is different than we imagined.
What do you think God would look like as a human? How do you think he would live His life, or even do things like eat and drink and sleep? Everyone has some perception of what God is like. The Bible reveals who God is by nature, and the Gospels give a personal account of when God came to earth as a human. He was not recognized for who He was, in fact, His own people rejected Him. After three years of public ministry among the people, Jesus was pointed out from a crowd with a kiss from His betrayer. Apparently, He didn’t stand out enough to be recognized, and didn’t meet the expectations of the people He visited.
The passage of John 1:1-18, the beginning of the Gospel of John, is the beginning of the Gospel story, a true story. God, the Creator, the One who spoke and brought everything into existence, came and lived among people on the earth. He, the Word of Life—the very light and life of all humanity—entered the world He created. A man named John was sent to announce His arrival into the world, but most people paid no attention to this message or to the Light Himself. Still, all the darkness of the world could not hide or stifle the Light. Even though those created as His own unique people rejected Him, some accepted and trusted in Him. He brought them into the family of God through a spiritual birth unlike that of this world.
The Word of Life revealed the very nature of God, through a life full of grace and truth. He made a way for man to have relationship with God, because He came into the world as a man. He was announced as the One who was eternal. The world only knew God through a relationship of laws presented through the man named Moses. When the Word of Life came, now in the place of authority beside God the Father, He revealed a new way of relationship governed by God’s kindness and truth. The Word of Life, the Light of all mankind, has revealed God who is invisible.
Here's another excerpt from my upcoming book. I just finished rewriting it all and it's resubmitted to the publisher for review. Hopefully it will be available in a few months.