Thursday, May 17, 2012

1 John 5:9-13

Easter 7 - Year B

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

And who arbitrates who has the “Son” and who doesn’t. Since the days of Constantine, the church institutional is the decider. This is a power position. No wonder church and state are so intimately intertwined — each using the other to its ends that become closer and closer together.

At stake here is something called “eternal life”. That’s big. At least it sounds so. If you are out for it and the arbiter is the church you are willing to cover your conscience in order to follow where it leads. A few shady thoughts, doctrines, actions can be excused in light of eternity.

Why an indefinite length of time as time is a desirable, I don’t know. More ticks and tocks, in and of themselves, do not appeal. In a loving context, time is luminous. Listen to a few sentences from The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible about the word here translated “eternal”.
The basic sense of the Greek word aiōn is the relative time associated with something, such as a person’s life or a generation in the sense of an “age” or an “era.”... It may refer to an indefinite past or future, often with prepositional constructions; e.g., “from of old”, “before the ages”, “forever”.... Similarly, they may also have the sense of “in perpetuity” ... Aiōn as the time of the world elides with a notion of the “world” itself. ... Thus, in the NRSV, aiōn is also translated “world”.

Imagine how differently we might approach this passage if we were talking about G*D giving us the world or G*D giving us this generation. To see this passage as some heavenly eternity does a disservice to more energetic translations that wouldn’t have us sit back and talk about Jesus. We could be doing what Jesus did, take advantage of the time given a person to draw near to G*D and to Neighbor. We could be asking what it means to honor the world as we honor Jesus rather than crucify the environment as Jesus was crucified, for the sake of power.

May you know you have your life in which to shape meaning. May you know your life to be invested in your generation, your era, your time and context. May you know your life to be connected with both past and future, but neither being your end-all or be-all.

1 comment:

  1. Greetings!

    When the talk comes to “eternal life” I can’t get passed the thought that Jesus himself, according to John, defined it in John 17:3:

    Jesus was talking to his closest followers and praying at the time.

    “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

    Inasmuch as along with that, in the same conversation, goes a new commandment to love each other as God and Jesus love us, it seems to me knowing and loving God and being open channels for God’s love to flow through us to the world IS what “eternal life” means.

    I don’t read church or rules or councils or catechisms in any of that! Who is to say how we come to know God or even who God is, and what does that “knowing” tell us? Who dares to say that any sincere “knowing” is wrong?


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