E. Stanley Jones

The Word Became Flesh

 

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Sunday--Week 13
I John 1:1-4

Principles Without The Person--Empty

    We are looking at the fact that if you work from Revelation down and the facts up you come out at the same place--at the feet of Jesus Christ. Life is rendering one verdict--the Christian verdict. While many thoughtful persons would agree to the fact that "we come out at the same place," they question the interpretation that the same place means "at the feet of Jesus Christ." They would say we come out to the same principles, but not to the same Person. There is a disposition to accept the principles apart from the Person.

    For instance, Fromm, in The Art of Loving, "To love God, if he were going to use that word would mean, then, to long for the attainment for in oneself." Again: "Having spoken of the love of God, I want to make it clear that I myself do not think in terms of a theistic concept, and that to me the concept of God is only a historically conditioned one, in which man has expressed his experience of his higher powers, his longing for truth and for unity at a given historical period." God is then only a concept mediated through oneself, his experience of his own personal higher powers, his longing for truth and a desire for unity. Man puts his own content into "God" and is the mediator of God to himself. God then is all he sees in himself, writ large, when he says, "God." No wonder then, that Fromm has a chapter entitled, "Love--Disintegration in Western Christ, it disintergrates. And love is an illustration. If you don't the content of your love from Jesus Christ, you will probably take it from Hollywood. So principles or ideas are bound to get their content from the sons of men or from the Son of Man. And if they get the content from the sons of men, they degenerate. If from the Son of Man, they are regenerated. So to take the principles apart from the Person is to take degenerated principles.

    O Jesus Lord, Thou art our personal Savior, but Thou art the Savior of principles and ideas, for Thou dost put into them a new content, the content of Thy divine illustration. We see everything different when we see Thee. For Thou art different. Amen.

Affirmation for the day: This is the crucifixion of Jesus--to take His principle and reject the Person.

Monday--Week 13
Hebrews 2:8,9

Humanity Seeks The Ideal...In A Person

    We saw yesterday that persons, words, concepts, and principles have to be constantly reclaimed and regenerated by contact with a Higher Illustration, by the Higher Illustration, by the Word became flesh. "As literature can never rise higher than the life," so words and principles can never higher than the life that surrounds the literature. For persons, words, concepts, and principles sink to the level of surrounding life and get their content from that surrounding life unless renewed by contact with and surrender to Higher life.

    As Ernest Renan says: "Humanity seeks the ideal, but it seeks it in a Person, and not in an abstraction. A Man, the incarnation of the ideal, whose biography might serve as a frame for the aspirations of the time, is what the religious mind sought." The only one who fits that is Jesus Christ, the Word became flesh. He turns the abstract into the concrete, the ideal into the real, the Word became flesh.

    The word "love" is an illustration. Jesus redeemed the word, put the content of His own love into that word. So much so that the early Christians had to reject the ordinary word for love, "eros," for it meant sex love, and chose "agape," into which was poured the love that Jesus illustrated and taught. Here in Japan, where I write, my interpreter in speaking before non-Christian audiences hesitated to use the Japanese word for love, for it meant only sex love. The word had not been in contact with Jesus and hence was unredeemed.

    We in the West have to go back to the Greek word "agape" to get the meaning of the word "love" redeemed by Jesus. Jesus redeemed the word "agape" by putting into is His own illustration of its meaning--agape love is Christlike love. For He puts universal meaning in it. Dr. F. R. Barry has said: "Jesus did not do everything good that can be done. He revealed the nature of goodness." Jesus did not do every loving thing possible, but in His acts and attitudes and words reveals the very nature of love. Look at Him, listen to Him, live with Him, and you know what love is.

    O Jesus Lord and Example, we look at Thee and now we see a universe in a word, the whole meaning of life in a sentence. We look at Thy life and we see Life! We listen to Thy truths and we see Truth! We watch Thy ways and see the Way! We are prostrate at Thy feet. We thank Thee. Amen.

Affirmation for the day: Close to Him today all my eros will be converted into agape.

Tuesday--Week 13
John 13:34,35

Eros And Agape Contrasted

    We are studying a word and are discovering a universe--that redeemed word "agape."