Pastors in the North Carolina Conference are asked annually to complete an evaluation process in cooperation with the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. One of the questions that is asked is “what aspects of ministry do you find life-giving?” The answers come rather quickly: preaching, teaching, and journeying with people as they grow in their faith. I can readily identify those (I can also readily identify the answer to the question “what aspects of ministry do you find life-draining?” but let’s save that for another conversation!).
How might you answer a similar question: what is life giving to you? Time with family? Golf? A day at the beach? A good book? A quiet dinner? What brings new energy to you, fills you with hope and possibility, inspires you to get out there and try again?
The writer of 1 John suggests that the single most life-giving thing we have is a relationship with Jesus Christ. While the answer may seem obvious, we do well to say so. That life in Christ is assured (a good Wesleyan term) not because we testify to it, but because God testifies to it. We receive God’s “yes” to us in Jesus, respond with our “yes” to God, and find life. Or, as 1 John writes, “the one who has the Son has life.”
Another way of saying that is to say that Jesus is “the end of faith as its beginning.” Our faith is both born in him and moves toward him. We find life and meaning in Jesus alone and that becomes the Spirit’s witness in us. So, when asked, “what is life-giving to you?” our first answer really should be “Jesus.”
We’ll share that life together this Sunday, as we do each week. We’ll gather around the word and listen to 1 John teach us about the life we have in Christ. We’ll gather around the font and welcome new members into that life through baptism and welcome. And we’ll be sent into the world to share that life so that others may “have the Son and have life.” I hope to see you Sunday at this life-giving place.
Grace and peace.