Matters of life and death. (Part two)

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4

Continuing from part one and some ideas around this word, “life,” the scripture record in the New Testament uses many Greek words for the idea of, “life.” For example:

βίος bios; means this present, physical life and all that is involved to sustain and experience it. We see it in places like, 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life [Bios] –is not from the Father but is from the world.”

And then there is the word, ψυχή psychē, and this is used to describe the physical force of our bodies that we see in things like breathing. Jesus uses this word to refer to daily concerns in Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life [psychē] what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life [psychē] more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

But in the top reference above, John, who knew Jesus personally as a best friend, used a very different word to describe Him. And Jesus, Himself, used this same word whenever He was referring to Himself or His hope for us. In these instances, they used the word, ζωή zōē; of the absolute fulness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through him . . . to last forever.

We see it many places like John 10:10, where Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life [zōē] and have it abundantly.” Also, in John 8:12, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life [zōē].

These word choices aren’t arbitrary….they are central, because when Jesus spoke of Himself as the way to life [zōē] he wasn’t just redefining life as a relationship with Him, He was simultaneously reframing the other ideas of life, the pride of life [bios] and concern for what we will eat or wear [psychē] when they are primary to us . . . as death. He was saying that when we believe that all that we see is all that there is, we will die. Without a relationship with Him in life, [zōē] these things lead, not to life, but to death.

Of this exchange, here’s what He said:

“Whoever loves his life [psyche] loses it, and whoever hates his life [psyche] in this world will keep it for eternal life [zoe]. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:25-26

Each of us, by nature, is consumed with the daily quest for things: money, status, friends, approval, shelter, freedom, purity, self-worth . . . rest. These call out to be primary in our focus, but Jesus is challenging that. He offers us a choice: a new way and very different way to live: dependence not upon our own thinking or ingenuity, but upon his power and reign in the universe.

Here’s what He’s teaching me about this: I have wrongly established my quest for things (bios, psychē, my way of life) as an equally viable option to a relationship with Jesus (His way of life, zōē).

But the options aren’t equal.

This is not a matter of life or life : it is a matter of life or death, and God knows this. In His great love for us, He wants us to know it, too.

He isn’t willing to let us be fooled.

To help me with my questions, He’s asking me one of His own:

“ . . .I am the resurrection and the life [zōē]. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

SMOOTHSTONE: God calls us into a new kind of life [zōē] with Him.

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