Bridging the Gap
August 7, 2005
Arlene Bougher, Lay Speaker
Montgomery United Methodist Church
John 1:1, John 1:14
My message this morning is entitled Bridging the Gap. A Christian faith journey is a personal thing. We all come from different places, denominations and parental training.
We have the miraculous belief in God, our creator, and his Son Jesus Christ, our savoir. Beyond that, in my opinion, there can be no judgments among our Christian friends about what or who is right or wrong. However, we all have a continuing opportunity to grow in faith and understanding.
Many years ago I began to ask myself- how do I do that? How do I grow and bridge the gap in my head and heart between the God I love, and His word made flesh in Christ?
The answer of course, is to widen our circle of understanding through prayer, communication and study. Sometimes a simple sentence or one word can transport us miles ahead in our spiritual journey.
In my own personal journey, I was a wife and mother when I began my secondary education, One of my classmates, Mary, a young engaged woman, with whom I had many discussions about faith, confided to me that she was really worried about her fiancé. He was willing to convert to her faith. But he believed, she said, that Christ was of God, not God himself. This was so important to her, she became distraught over this one difference in their relationship. I understood her fiancé’s beliefs.
I asked her a question. Were you raised Roman Catholic and was he raised Protestant? She answered, “Yes”, with a quizzical look on her face. “That’s the difference,” I said.
It helped her to understand it was their traditions that were different, and not a lack of faith on his part.
That conversation with Mary decades ago was a lesson for me, too.
I have always thought of myself as a natural believer. Never doubting the existence of God and my great love for Him, and believing in Christ as the word and Son of God and my Savoir who died on the cross for the sins of all of us.
Now I needed more, something to bridge the gap and clarify uncertainties in my faith.
. You probably know that during communion, Protestants believe the wine and the bread are symbols of Christ, the same as the symbolic commanding gestures Jesus made at the Last Supper, “Drink this wine… eat this bread…in remembrance of me” Those of you who were raised Roman Catholic may believe that in drinking the wine and eating the bread (the Eucharist), the elements actually become Christ in our hearts, the same as the Holy Spirit within us.
Recently I was speaking with a pastor who has had the opportunity to look into the eyes of a congregation made up of both the Roman Catholic and protestant traditions, while they were taking communion. He told me he saw no difference in the joy and reverence on their faces.
The love of God, the love of Jesus Christ transcends all.
In the Gospel of John 1:1, we read, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.” And in John 1:14 we read, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
In the book William Barclay, A Spiritual Biography the internationally known theologian, teacher, and New Testament interpreter writes, “For me John 1:14 is the single most important verse in the Bible.”
I asked my self why he places such unique importance on that one verse.
Here Barclay begins the lesson that bridges the gap among Christian traditions.
He tells us “the Greek translation of word is logos.” But more than that, “In Greek the word logos has two meanings and there is no one English word that will include both.” In fact, some translations of the gospel of John read “In the beginning was the logos” and “the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Barclay says: “The first meaning of logos is word, a means of communication. Jesus is God’s means of communication to mankind… A word is an expression of a thought. (Repeat) Therefore Jesus is the expression of the thought of God. So John says: ‘if you want to know what God is trying to tell us, look at Jesus. If you want to know what God is thinking look at Jesus.’
Barclay goes on to say, “The second meaning of logos is mind or reason. There is a law in life. Always the same effect follows the same cause.”
If you plant tomato seeds, you get tomatoes, not cucumbers! The universe has an order. The Greeks knew “That everything happens in accordance with the logos.
And what is the logos Barclay asks us? He answers: “The logos is the mind of God interpenetrating the universe and making sense of it.” The logos is the mind of God…It is the logos which puts order in the universe and reason into the mind of man.
So John says to the Greeks of his day: For centuries you have been talking about the mind of God. If you want to see what the mind of God is like, look at Jesus.”
If I wanted to describe a virtual picture of Jesus I might begin with the short list: unconditional love; a wisdom beyond his contemporaries, even as a boy; a gentle love of children; a forgiving spirit toward sinners; and the power to heal the mind and body.
If you want to see what the mind of God is like, look at Jesus.
This is such a simple sentence. Yet for me it is so big, bridging a gap in my spiritual journey, taking me miles down the path of understanding my faith.
What about you? Are there gaps in your understanding about your faith? If so, I invite you to find a quiet time this week, and give it up to God in Prayer. He will help you to find the answers that bridge the gaps on your spiritual journey.
God bless you and have a good week.
© 2005 Arlene Bougher