Last Lord's Day, our pastors were away to visit family members in another state, and one of our lay leaders preached. The Gospel Lesson was the first chapter of John, a difficult reading for me to understand, as is most of John's gospel. Two points of his sermon seemed to be made for my sake, though I'm certain the preacher was not preaching to me. But as he made these two points, i thought, "God is bringing me new understandings through this sermon."
First, the preacher made a statement to the effect that every time one does a service for another, the Word is being made flesh. Why had i never thought of the phrase, "the word made flesh," in that way? Certainly, each time we become Jesus to another we are putting flesh on the abstract concept of the Word, and the person to whom we have become Jesus in turn becomes Jesus to us, the Word made flesh, just as Jesus said that "when you do it unto the least of these my brothers, you do it unto me." Suddenly the prologue of John's gospel became so much clearer to me. This is the Word, that we love and serve one another!
The second point that impressed itself on me was that being a Christian means that we are followers of Jesus. To be a follower of Jesus means to do as Jesus instructed. Being a Christian is not an intellectual assent to faith, but a course of action. It seemed to me that i was seeing the role of our actions as an expression of our faith, as if for the first time, that i was understanding for the first time that serving others as Jesus instructed is not only an expression of our faith but a path leading us to faith. One of the functions of the church is to bind Jesus' followers together to make possible service that is not possible alone, to have a larger vision of how better to serve others. Being a part of the church enables those of us who follow Jesus to accomplish much for others that we could not do alone.
Even now, as i write about the experience of this worship service, i am amazed at the impact of being reminded of truths i already knew and of seeing the beginning of John's gospel in a new way had on me as i sat in the service. My prayer is that you and i will "make the Word flesh" in service to others and that those of us who call ourselves Christians will see the actions of serving others as both the path to faith and as an expression of that faith.