Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Youth in search of meaningful life
John 1:43-51
VS. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!”
 Youths are a vital part of the church as well as society. They are the backbone of the future church. But most of them appear to be uncertain about their future. There is an identity crisis among the Christian youth “Who am I?” “What do I want to be in life?” “What is my goal in life?” The answers are not forthcoming . There is confusion and the social values of the present generation add to this confusion. Our culture plays a great part in our childhood and growing years. It forms our character and determines the values to be cherished. The identity of a Christian person is determined only in relation to his/her faith. Christ gives us our identity, which remains unchanged no matter who you become or where you are. So a Christian derives his/her identity from Jesus Christ. Once the real identity is lost and we become one with the world, we are indistinguishable from it , and we will express the values of the world.
 Here Nathanael is presented as an example, and model for all of us. Nathanael appears as a disciple of Jesus only once more in this Gospel (21:2) and not  in any of the other gospels. He responded to Philip’s invitation and moves forward to Jesus, only to find that Jesus immediately turns his scorn to wonder and strong approval. Jesus could see into his heart. Jesus’s words about him were a tribute that any devout Israelite would recognize. Nathanael was surprised that anyone could give a verdict like that on such short acquaintance, and he demanded to know how Jesus could possibly know him. Jesus told him that he had already seen him under the fig tree. According to Jews, the fig tree always stood for peace and was used as a place for meditation and prayer. Nathaniel used to meditate the word of God under the fig tree. Jesus has read the thoughts of Nathaniel’s inmost heart. He is an ideal figure standing for all true believers who have a bond with Christ.
With penetrating insight, Jesus affirms him as a man of integrity and trust in God. Based on the witness of Philip (45) and the miraculous insight of Jesus, Nathaniel’s scorn now dissipates and  is replaced by  respect and confession (49). A faith, based on miracles, has its place in pointing out who Jesus is. Jesus assures him that there is much more than this for him to see. In this gospel, Jesus confirms the importance and trustworthiness of what He says. In vs. 51, that God has chosen to communicate between heaven and earth through his servant Jacob and so through the nation of Israel who took his new name. Now, here is Jesus adding his own testimony to those of Nathanael and all the other witnesses in this chapter, saying that he himself is God’s chosen stairway by which free communication ascends and descends, people on earth communicating with heaven above, and God from his open heaven above communicating with people below.
 No matter what the youth ultimately choose to do, what job they land in, where they live, all these expressions of life need to be determined by this all inclusive and pervasive identity given by Jesus Christ. This gives a new perspective to life, a new understanding of life, a new lifestyle, a way to live life. Following Jesus in a meaningful way requires a definite decision on a person’s part. Our decisions often are dependent on the values that we uphold and cherish. God has given all of us the gift of life and it is to be used for His glory. All that we do, needs to be seen in the light of God’s Grace and Mercy.
 Dr. Stanley Jones says that there are two ways in which a person can be rich. One, if the person has the worldly things such as a large bank balance; and the other, one whose wants are  few. St. Paul says, “I have learned that in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil 4:11). We believe God has a purpose in giving us this life and we must consciously make an effort to find out that purpose and make appropriate decisions to fulfill that purpose. Our identity is based upon this understanding of life. We should try to look beyond our own self to the context in which we live and we will discover our vocation. He will then lead all of us to look beyond our narrow visions and  become instruments of this Grace to the people among whom we find ourselves.
Lord, let us experience Your presence in our life. Let us feel the touch of Your Holiness. Pour out Your Spirit on us today so that we may live with a deep sense of the presence of Your Power in us, with us and throughout the world, today and always. Amen
The choice would result in actions, so live with God
Rev. Aji Thomas, Mar Thoma Church, Seattle