Christmastime Day Eleven
January 5, 2019
By Elaine Friedrich
Written by Jana Combs
Children of God
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. – John 1:10-18
I grew up in the church, but admit that I have not always trusted in Jesus. And truthfully, I sometimes still struggle with doubts. Fortunately, in today’s Scripture, we are promised that “to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”
So what might this passage mean for us today, as we start a new year, filled with fresh possibilities? I propose, as we approach Epiphany (a celebration of the manifestation of Christ), that John’s words provide clues that direct us towards an exciting opportunity. An opportunity to embrace choices that can help make this manifestation real in our own lives.
Perhaps we choose to receive Him with a renewed sense of faith and trust that Jesus is who He says He is. Not just mere recognition, but intentionally receiving Him with full acceptance and welcoming. I get it: if you are reading this, and don’t even know where to start with that concept, may I suggest (from experience) that you seek out someone who already seems to embrace this idea of full acceptance, and ask them to help you along (they are Christian – I promise they will cooperate with your request!). And if you received Jesus long ago, but recently find yourself feeling disconnected, you might consider joining a new Bible study or a life group, to help foster connection through a community of believers. We need each other to reflect the love of Christ into the unpredictable journeys of our lives and faith.
Or perhaps we choose to believe Him, despite any nagging doubts or uncertainties. Wherever we find ourselves as 2019 begins, we can make an unwavering decision to simply trust what Jesus says about our current situation. He offers peace: claim it. He offers grace: rest in it. He offers forgiveness: accept it. Seek out other truths in His word with a sincere desire to believe what He says about Himself, as well as what He says about you and your life. Choose to ruthlessly eliminate outside noise and distractions long enough to be still and know.
John’s passage promises us that all who receive Him, and all who believe Him are given the right to become children of God. “All” means all. No matter where we are on our faith journey, or what we have done in the past; “all” means all. All are welcomed. All are received. I would never want to trivialize how challenging it can be to make the choice to receive and believe. Indeed, it requires something deep inside to be called forth, and oftentimes, surrendered. But if we are courageous enough to make these intentional choices, our Scripture today gives us the hope and assurance that we will become children of God. What a great way to start the year!