Have you ever been reading the Word and suddenly a phrase or a clause will jump right out of the text for you? I’m sure it happens on a regular basis for those who read and meditate on scripture. I was reading in 1 John where the apostle is addressing himself to various groups within the Christian community (1 John 2:12-14). In the last verse he lists three reasons why he is writing to them: they are strong, God’s word lives in them and they have overcome the evil one. It is the second that caught my eye, “the word of God lives in you.”
God speaks and we are to listen. If a notable person in the field of athletics, higher education or politics were to announce an important occasion for Anacortes this evening, I would be there. I would want to learn what it was that brought him to our island. We tend to pay attention or not to a speaker on the basis of their understanding in areas of interest to us. Their “word” is important for us. We want to know what they have to say. But what if the speaker were God himself? Right! We would all be there scrambling for the best seats.
Well, God is speaking this evening, in fact, he has a matinee this afternoon. Even better than that, he is available for a private interview right now. Why is it that all too often we post-pone certain scheduled events, not an appointment with the doctor or a lunch with a friend, but those times we’ve set up to talk with God? The answer, of course, is that we are still burdened with an old man, a fallen human nature. Interestingly enough, that is precisely why we need to spend time with our Lord!
John says that God’s word “was living” among that group of believers in the Roman province of Asia, probably meeting in one another’s homes. But the Word was not living with them geographically but personal – he was in the heart of each believer. In his gospel John tells us that Jesus is that Word and that he came to dwell among us. Who Jesus is and what he taught can be said to be one, so for the Word to “live with us” is to say that in addition to his presence in the heart, what he taught has taken precedence in our life. It is central. It calls to be properly honored. Believers are people of Word; they read it, they live it. It is the dynamic that shapes their life in every area.
A number of years ago, Dr. Ockenga of Park Street Church in Boston challenged a group of seminary students (I was there) to take a few minutes every day to meditate on a specific verse of Scripture. He said not to be worried about making it “through the bible in year” but simply to let God speak. A remarkable thing. God seemed always to be right there. In fact, I can never remember an occasion when he wasn’t. The purpose was to let biblical truth take control of life. It was so his Word could “live” in us. We are mentored by those people with whom we provide time. If Christ actually lives in us there is no one or no thing that will have a greater formative influence on our life.