Eternally Present Today

Sunday, November 5, 2023
God is…. I am
Isaiah 40:28-31 & 1 John 1:1-4
Rev. Kristine Aragon Bruce

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1st John 1:1-4 The Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing this that our[a] joy may be complete.

Scot Mcknight, a prolific author and professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary does an exercise with his students where he asks them to write down on a note card their answer to the question: “What is the gospel?”

Students would write answers such as “God loves us,” “God has a perfect plan for our lives,” or “to live with God for all of eternity.” McKnight points out that there are scripture passages that support these truths, but this definition of the Gospel would be unrecognizable to the disciples and the apostles.

McKnight argues that the Apostle Paul (and I would include our passage from 1 John this morning) and the earliest Christians defined the gospel as Jesus Christ. Namely because: In Jesus, we experience God as a human, Jesus was unjustly put to death, Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and he will one day return to make all things right. There is nothing in here about eternal life, although eternal life is a part of the gospel, but it’s not the gospel.

According to McKnight, we tend to sum up the gospel as a story about us not the story of Jesus Christ. Many Christians tend to focus on what happens to us when we die: Where will we end up? Will we be happy? This puts the focus on us instead of how the eternal God is with us today in Jesus Christ.

In our sermon series, “God is…I am” our focus today is: God is eternal. I am meant to experience the eternal God today through Jesus Christ.

I want to focus on how we can experience God through Jesus Christ today, because we tend to associate eternity with eternal life as something we have yet to experience. Something that has yet to happen. While it’s true that we won’t experience the fullness of God until the next life we have to be careful to not fall into the trap of thinking that we can’t experience God at all today. Because that is simply not true. Jesus made it possible for us to experience God today and at all times.

It’s why the focus is on Jesus in our passage from 1 John this morning. Verse two states: “We testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and revealed to us.” They got a glimpse of God’s eternal greatness in a person with whom they could see, touch and converse face to face. They knew that if one wanted to know God one had to know Jesus Christ. That’s why John states: “Our fellowship is with the Father and with this Son, Jesus Christ.” -The way to experience God is through Jesus, but not something we have to wait for. It’s something we can experience today.

While we can’t have the same interpersonal interactions with Jesus as the disciples did Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit which is God as spirit who helps us understand how all that Jesus taught, said, and did continues to transform us today. We tend to view God at work today as only in the big and dramatic events, which is true, but those aren’t the only instances where we see God at work. Jesus is eternally present in the small and ordinary things of our daily lives.

To quote C.S. Lewis: “The present is the time at which time touches eternity.”

We get glimpses of the eternal God in all that happens today. Even in the small things. I heard a great story this week from one of our members.

Dar Hollis a longtime member of our church recently got into a car accident. She is okay and is now at home recovering. Her car, however, is a total loss. Instead of Dar becoming upset with the person who ran a stop sign and was therefore at fault she chose to pray for him. She was actually worried about how terrible he must feel because he was so remorseful at the time of the accident. His car was fine and he walked away without a scratch. Fast forward a couple of days and the man who caused the accident tracked Dar down, called her to once again apologize and wants to take her out to dinner when she’s feeling better.

Other examples of glimpses of God’s eternal goodness this week: Generosity breakfast last week was a great celebration of our church family connecting. Troy and I wanted to visit with as many people as we could, but when we looked out among the lounge you all were having so much fun talking to one another that we didn’t want to interrupt!

People asking for recommendations of a good study Bible to read because they want to be more familiar with scripture and deepen their faith.

Today is All Saints’ Day when we remember the loved ones we lost this year while holding onto the hope that because of what Jesus did death never has the final say.

In Communion, we also see a glimpse of the eternal God’s grace. We may not understand what is happening and we may not feel any different, but isn’t it great knowing that our feelings don’t dictate the sacredness of how God is present with us in this holy meal and really at any time.

It’s in these little moments that we experience the eternal God who is at work in the present.

Going back to our passage from 1 John, John begins with an announcement or proclamation about who has existed from the beginning. Then moves to how they’ve experienced a relationship with Jesus. It begins with who Jesus is.

“The eternal life described here is grounded in the historical events of Jesus’ life. -Gary Burge

What we can take away from John, is to pay attention to how the eternal God through Jesus Christ is at work in our lives. Even in the most mundane things.

What I love about our passage from John, is how they were willing to share experience Jesus Christ. Not to put themselves as the focus, but to put the focus who Jesus is and because of what Jesus did continues to transform our lives.

It’s in the sharing of our experiences of Jesus Christ we are pointing others to Jesus Christ. Helps others who might be curious about Jesus to be encouraged to find out more about him. My hope is that we would always be aware of how Jesus is at work in our lives even in the most mundane things. And to share those experiences together.

We currently have a mission team in Belize working with our mission partners, Koinonia Ministries which is led by Pastor Ed and his wife, Pastora Dyna. When I was there two years ago with another team from our church I’ll never forget something Pastor Ed said to me:

“If we stop sharing stories about how Jesus is at work in our daily lives the church will stop being the church. The pews and chairs will be full, but full of people who don’t know Jesus as well as they could or in the way God wants us to know him.”

There’s a lot of news of how the church is in decline.

But what is not in decline and will never go away is Jesus himself.

God is eternal and is not confined to time as time is a human-made concept

Churches close. Early church does not exist anymore.

Churches evolve.

Churches change, but the eternal God never does.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

And we were meant to experience the goodness, love and grace of the Eternal God today.

That’s who we are. Because that’s who God is.