You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
March 26, 2009
Old Testament Reading: Exodus 32:7-14
9 And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people; 10 now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; but of you I will make a great nation.” 11 But Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
Gospel Reading: John 5:31-47
31 If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true; 32 there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent. 39 You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from men. 42 But I know that you have not the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
Conversion is both a process and a moment. One of my favorite professors and a devout Anglican told me over coffee one afternoon that you can believe something intellectually, but actually believing it, so you feel it in your heart, or better, in your gut, so it suffuses your being… that’s something different.
I was approaching Christianity in my junior year of college, I did a lot of intellectual work. I read the great theologians, stories about the saints, essays by Lewis and Chesterton, even pored over Scripture. I came to accept, on an intellectual level, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. But I needed to reach deeper, dig deeper, until I felt it in my gut. And that, I firmly believe, is where grace comes in. That is when the Holy Spirit steps in and touches us, opens our eyes, and we are never the same.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t happen only once, and thank God for that. We are human beings, trapped at the moment in time, and in time things are cyclical, our beliefs, or loves, they wax and wane. We resolve to live good Christian lives, then we fall away again. It happens to everyone. We need to remember that God’s love is always there, to touch us and bring us back into the fold.