God, simply put, is. Without God nothing else would be. And without God nothing else would continue to be. We live in the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Triune Godhead is the all-encompassing reality within which we live and move and have our being. To experience life is to experience the world this God both transcends and is present in, a world created by the Father, through the Son, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God is, we are.
This means that all we do and all that we are—all the details of our everyday lives—happen in relation to the God who is Father, Son, and Spirit. Everything from the breaths we take to the daily chores we do that often seem mundane to the relationships we inhabit and give our lives meaning all take place because of the prior and ongoing activity of the Triune God. Nothing occurs apart from him.
That this is so doesn’t depend on my acknowledging it. It simply is. Every human being past, present, and future, exists only because of this God. And we experience life as it ought to be—as this God intends us to experience it—to the degree that we are willing to acknowledge this reality. Eternal life is no less than willingly and joyfully living in this reality; it is more, to be sure, but not less.
So when the second Person of the Trinity, the Son, became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, he did so to invite us into this reality. The kingdom of God is here! Repent and believe in the good news! He comes to open our eyes and hearts to the reality of who God the Father is. He comes to make it possible for us to see ourselves and our world in a completely new and different way—to such an extent that we become new people. When this happens to us, we are, to use Johannine language, born again. Like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
Sin is the denial of this reality. Sin is a failure to acknowledge God for who he is and as he has revealed himself through the person of Jesus. Disobedience or transgressing the laws and commands of God means, simply, setting ourselves against the way things actually are. If indeed in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, then sin is anything which runs counter to why there is anything at all. Sin is a denial of our telos, our very reason for existence. I have always loved Augustine’s words at the start of his Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in you.” Or as the Shorter Westminster Catechism has it, we’re here “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to align my life with the truth. Eventually, when truth found me in the person of Christ, my life took on a purpose and had a determining centre that it had never had before. Colossians 1:16 says of Jesus that all things have been created through him and for him. This speaks both of Jesus as both the source of my existence and my purpose for existing. I am here because of Jesus. I am here for Jesus. As are you.
John 1:1-3 tells us that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. Think of all the days you have lived, the sum total of your experiences, the breaths you have taken, the pulse you can feel just under your skin—all because of this Word that is God. Think of the billions upon billions of stars. Think of the billions upon billions of atoms. Think of all the factors that make intelligent life possible, without which we could not exist. All because of this Word that is God.
Verse 14 gives us the punchline: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Astonishing. Breathtaking. Wondrous. The very source of all things, the reason there is anything at all, why there is something rather than nothing, became a part of his own creation. All so we could know this Word. So we could know reality. So we could see the truth. So we could experience the relationship that forms and gives shape to the heavens and the earth and everything in them. So we could know where we came from and where we’re going, The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The one in whom we live and move and have our being became a human being. God spoke himself into our time and space.
In many ways the search for meaning, for purpose, for fulfillment, is both a search for ourselves and a search for God. We can’t find one without finding the other. We can’t know one without knowing the other. Yet were it not for God revealing himself, we would have nowhere to begin. God initiates. He always moves first.
As I look back on my life, even with my very limited perspective, I think it’s possible—even necessary—to conclude that though I wasn’t always aware of him, God was there. I believe he protected me. I believe he led me to himself. I believe he continually placed people in my life and brought circumstances into my life so that I would seek after him. I say this both of joyful and difficult times—maybe more so through difficult times.
The time I can most concretely point to as a conversion was a personal low point, a moment of feeling the weight of insecurity and a desperate need for a power outside of myself to help me. I felt alone, trapped inside of myself, shackled to my fears and anxiety. It was there that Jesus met me. It was not a dramatic conversion. There was no blinding light. I heard no audible voice, angels singing, or trumpets. But I heard him. I heard him mostly in community, in the accepting grace of peers and through the discerning wisdom of improbable mentors. And I heard him in his word. Indeed, hearing from God through Scripture is also to hear him through the voice of both peers and mentors, people who through their faith and failure reveal to us the very grace of God. I believe our stories, our very lives, can be a part of the story God is telling. I hope that’s true of me. I believe it is. Notice how I said, I believe it is. Present-tense. It’s still true. God is still writing my story. More chapters remain. And it’s my hope and prayer that if you’re reading this, you’re discovering yourself being written into God’s story too.