“When [the Advocate] comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now.” – John 16:8-12
If we say we are Christians then wouldn’t it make sense to follow the teachings of Jesus?
Today marks the eighth day of January 2020, and Christmas already seems like a distant memory. There was so much packed into just a couple of weeks: so much love, so many people, so many images, so much to process and I’m still trying to catch up.
So I scrolled through some of the photographs and this one jumped out at me. It didn’t take me long to figure out why. My son with his son. Standing in the light of the window as an illustration of the hopes, the faith, the dreams, and the promise that is set into motion when we first become parents.
It all begins here:
It all begins here. All the love in this world, the protectiveness, the sense of home, the fear for the future, the defenses, the desire for peace, the anxiety, the belonging, the commitment to tribe, the often contradictory passions that lead us to make peace and to fight for the exact same reasons. It is all here in this photograph.
For myself, I am a pacifist by ideology yet a fierce warrior by love and parenthood. It is hard to be reasonable when we feel threatened, and harder still when those whom we love come under fire. But we cannot rely exclusively on our instincts, and this is why we need to know God.
God not only teaches us “another way” but demonstrated that way through the gift of Jesus. God’s way proves that the interminable cycle of blood and revenge not only can be interrupted but it must be. All the potential – the potency – vested in human passion is present in a photograph of a father holding his firstborn.
But – beyond visceral passion – all that God intends (and believes) for humankind becomes accessible only when we choose to follow Jesus and live not just for the child we are holding but all children; not just for our immediate family but all families; not just for those just like us but for all God’s people; not just our friends but our enemies too.
Two possible outcomes:
The game of revenge has only two possible conclusions. First, when all parties even vaguely connected are dead. Alternatively, when one “side” chooses to step out of the perpetual cycle.
Jesus made an interesting statement in John’s Gospel that is not often discussed: “Eventually, God is going to prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment…”
Simply put, it is past time that we learned, and practiced, God’s way when it comes to ideas such as what destroys our relationship with God, what is “right living”, and what judgment looks like. Our way is not working. Jesus came – Jesus comes – to lead us in another direction.
Repeat after me: “Our way is not working. Our way is not working. Our way is not working…”
Thank God for this new generation. May they learn from our faith as well as our foolish mistakes. May they learn to follow the Way of Jesus – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.