A Word From the Head
December 11, 2014
Mr. Rod Gilbert, Head of School
I asked Ron Wood, our COO, to write a devotional on one of the key Christmas verses - John 1:12. Mr. Wood, a Regents grandfather and the Regents Men’s Bible Study leader, wrote a lovely piece about accepting the message of Christ. Isn’t it great that our COO leads a bible study and also tries his hand at writing Christian devotionals? Enjoy hearing his heart about the Christmas message.
What Joyful News!
John 1:11-12, “He came to His own and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”
We all initially receive Scripture from the perspective of our own life experience. However, the best way to understand God’s Word is to view it from His perspective. In John 1:11-12, we are receiving a summary statement made perhaps as many as thirty years after the actual events of Jesus’ experiences - a conclusion reached by John after many years of thought and reflection.
It is not easy to face rejection, especially if you are the Son of God and the ones rejecting you are the very ones who should know you the best. It was the Priests, scribes and rulers of Israel that ignored Him. But receive this trustworthy statement, “God can transform something evil into something good.” At first, such a bold proclamation seems not only ridiculous, but also impossible. Humor me by letting me tell you of an event in my own life that proves the truth of that statement.
My earliest memory involves my mother dropping me off at my grandmother’s house. I can still see her getting into a two-door sedan and driving off. The pain and horror remains with me even as I reflect upon the moment. I ran after the car crying, “No Mommy, no. No Mommy, no!” The red New Mexico dust lifted up from the tires of the speeding car, drifting into my face and muddying my tears. I fell face down into the dirt road, not because I tripped, but because I despondently realized that I would not catch up with the car and my mother was not coming back to get me. This story has been repeated hundreds of times when Mom and Dad are just going out for a dinner party and the child cries when left alone with a babysitter.
My memory repeated itself in nightmares. Therefore, a spirit of abandonment resided deeply in my heart for many years.
One might read such an event and remark, “What a terrible mark upon one life. His earliest memory is one of abandonment.” Well, in my life as a child, that reoccurring dream supported the daily emotion of rejection.
Therefore, when I read John’s words as a child “He gave them right to become children of God”, my heart was drawn instantly to the promise. This was welcomed news indeed.
Everyone needs stability, and a child’s footing begins with a united family. Mom and Dad’s expressed love in the home can establish a child upon a healthy spiritual foundation.
Our Lord and Savior went about healing, teaching and expressing compassion throughout the land of Israel. Early in His ministry, it became apparent that the Priests, Pharisees, scribes, and other national leaders were not receiving His teachings or His acts as lessons and deeds from God. In the end, even His closest companions, whom He had called as disciples and whom He considered His closest friends, abandoned Him on the night of His arrest.
In verses 1:4 and 1:10, we learn that Jesus was the creator of the universe, and that God sent Jesus to dwell among His people in order that His love for them could be personally experienced. However, even after all of His attention and preparation by the prophets, Israel rejected her creator, her Messiah. When the King of Kings saw the Priests turn their backs on Him, and through His omnipotent hearing He learned of their plot to kill Him, His heart was truly broken and He knew firsthand the meaning of the word ‘rejection.’
In stark contrast to the rejection Jesus received from Israel, we rejoice at the good news contained in verse twelve, “as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God.” Throughout history God has always had a remnant of followers who truly loved Him and called out to Him, “You are our God and we are Your people.” It is true; those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are eligible to become members of His family. Those who have been rejected by men are first on His adoption list.
When I was twelve years old, I learned of the good news - that I could be a member of God’s family. I could call my Heavenly Father ‘Abba.’ When this truth entered into my understanding, all of my hurt from those early memories vanished! Therefore, when I proclaim that evil can be changed into good it is from my life’s experience that I speak. My felt rejection as a child prepared me to receive the good news of God’s adoption policy.
What joyful news! We can become children of God by believing that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. To believe in His name is to receive the good news. God is willing to form an intimate relationship with us, even exceeding that of a loving father and child. We can trust in His willingness to save us. Through the union of the Holy Spirit we can know that Jesus died for us and that we might be with Him, where He is. God’s people walk in His light and receive perfect peace. As we approach this holiday season, let us rejoice in our great hope. We belong to Him and He is indeed our inheritance.