There are no quick and easy answers to; the meaning of life, the meaning of Eternal life, the good life, the life that Christ brings, God creates. These answers are revealed as we continue through the gospel, and even then, they are not clearcut answers. But the writer of the Gospel of John does begin to reveal what Eternal Life, God-given life, is NOT, in today’s verses.
First, children of God are not born of ‘natural descent.‘ To really understand what the gospel writer is saying we need to look back at another translation, such as the KJV, which translates this ‘born not of blood.‘ Raymond Brown, in his commentary, points out that in the original greek, ‘blood‘ is plural, ‘bloods.‘ He goes on to explain that ‘bloods‘ is a Hebrew idiom for violence. In other words, children of God are not children born of violence. In the gospel writers world, which is controlled and defined by Rome, violence is at the heart of the empires existence. It was a violent civil war that brought Octavian (Caesar Augustus) to power. The wealth and prosperity of the empire, which was enjoyed in Ephesus where the gospel was written, was won through the work of the Roman Legions and maintained by the threat of their violent power. But John is telling us that children of God are NOT children of violence even though we lived in a world filled with and apparently dependent upon violence.
Second, we are not born of ‘human decision.‘ Once again we must go back to the King James to fully understand. In the King James this phrase is translated ‘the will of the flesh.‘ Bert Newton, in his book on the Gospel of John, makes a compelling case for understanding this phrase as referring to family/tribe/nation. When we are born as children of God, our familial, ethnic and national identities take back-seat to our identity as ‘children of God.’ This isn’t to suggest that our family, ethnic heritage or citizenship is erased, or no longer important. Instead, this reminds us that if our calling, as children of God is live life as Christ has shown us, the divisions that often arise between ethnic groups, nation-states, and even families, are no longer normative to us. We are called to create connections, to gather in ALL people to the family of Christ, not continue to abide by these divisions.
We will move on to the third redefinition of life tomorrow.
For today, let’s ponder the foundation, the center, of our lives. The writer of John suggests that both violence and ethnic heritage and national citizenship tell stories of where life comes from and what the good life is, in often harmful ways. would you agree or disagree?