1 John 5:9-13 (NRSV)
If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Searching for a hook upon which to hang this meditation, I keep coming back to the writer's assertion that not to believe in God makes God out to be a liar. This is New Testament Greek to me. I just don't get the logic. In my experience there are things I have believed not to be true, only to learn they are; but my not believing didn't mean these things were not real or those who believed them to be liars. How can one's disbelief in God's revelation in Jesus Christ make God a liar?
Several weeks ago I attended a poetry slam/jam sponsored by the New Haven Board of Education. As diverse a group of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders as you can imagine gathered from across town to share their poetry. If I told you I was prepared for what I experienced I would be a liar. From the get go there were stories of abuse and abandonment, no family, no shoes, struggling to fit in, and trying to get out, all told within the form and discipline of poetry and rap. Hunger, alienation, and the persistent sense of being lost, lonely, and powerless permeated the evening. If there is anything to make you think God is a liar it would be the experiences of these creative, risk-taking, and intelligent children.
But I don't think God is a liar. I do, however, spend some of my precious time trying to fool myself, telling myself what are really lies. When I think the violence on the streets of Ferguson or Baltimore somehow negate the violence experienced by those grief-stricken families and their communities, that's a lie! When I look upon the faces of the six indicted Baltimore police officers without compassion, I'm lying! When we face without hope the violence, the grief, and despair found throughout life, we are liars!
The writer of 1 John wasn't lying. He really believed God is revealed in a life-cut-short and the resurrection of Jesus Christ; and that the gifts of forgiveness, love, and eternal life are bearers of hope. I believe that writer as well as Jesus.
When the last student finished after two and a half hours, they were all invited back up on the stage. As one, the audience rose to our feet clapping, whistling, and cheering as the young poets took their bows. Their faces were brighter than a brand-new car in an empty lot on a very hot day; and their smiles were so broad you could connect them from one end of the stage to another. They were given the encouragement and support to say what they needed to say. They took their voices seriously and spoke.
Now, if you don't think God had a hand in this, you're either a fool or liar!
O Lord Jesus, as we make our way through this day and the ones that follow, help us to love all whom you love, and do what you would have us do. In your precious name we pray. Amen.