Dispatch One Hundred Fifty-Seven

Posted: June 9, 2015 in Thirty-Sixth Bundle
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1 JOHN 5:1-6

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

Is this some sectarian fantasy of domination at work here: to “conquer the world”? If we didn’t know what the writer means by “the world,” we might think so. In the tradition of John (Gospel, Letters, Apocalypse) the world refers not to the planet but to the institutional system of human society. This is the “world” mentioned in the opening hymn of John’s Gospel, to whom the Word came but without recognition or acceptance.

Out of great love for “the world,” God gave his only begotten son for its salvation. Where we are right now, however, is still immersed in the dark resistance of the world to the liberty and joy of our final fulfillment.

How do we then “conquer the world”? Not through force, for that is the world’s way. Not by seduction or slippery persuasion, for that too is how the world captivates its prey. And finally, not by convincing arguments or doctrinal conversions, seeing as how the world is itself a revolving carousel of dogmatic proofs and trendy philosophies. No, we “conquer the world” through our own inward transformation and being “born of God.”

The author explains this as an event of faith, as the moment we see into the truth of who Jesus was and is, and believe so fully in him that we risk meaning, sanity, and existence itself in personal surrender to the God beyond, beneath, and at the heart of all things. Such release into God requires our release of the world (and its attachments), which becomes our liberation from the world and our victory over the world.


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