The Word in Person

My first visit to a Max Brenner chocolate bar was a delight for a chocolate lover such as myself. Entering one of his stores is meant to re-create the sensory experience of something like the fantasy world of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory where there is music, colourful gift tins, aromas and of course the desserts to share with your companions. But what captivated me most was the invitation painted on the wall ‘I want you to watch, smell, taste and feel my love story.‘ Chocolate lovers come, taste and see that it is good and buy gifts to express love to others.

As I pondered on that invitation, the words reminded me of the greatest love story where “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) This reality changes everything. The baby Jesus was born, but the Word never was. The Word of God, Maker of the universe and Creator of human breath was born in a lowly stable. Christ was in Mary and God was in Christ. The entire Scriptures testify to Jesus, God’s promised redeemer. He fulfilled what had been typified through the lives of the Old Testament people of faith, pictured in events, symbols and prophesies. The Gospels reveal Jesus as the teacher who masterfully uses different means – stories, parables, instructions and miracles to reframe the thinking of his disciples and those He meets with the goal that their encounter will be no less than life-changing. He orchestrated these transformations in the bodies, hearts and minds of individuals by expressing the love of God and enabling them to see the world in a new way. Zacchaeus was lost and alienated from others because of his greed. But when ‘salvation came to his house” (Luke 19:9) through the visit of Jesus, the value of his money was completely re-orientated. Its value was now in its capacity to make restitution to those he cheated.

There is no other place in the world where love, forgiveness, holiness and justice come together except for the Cross where Jesus died for each person. At the foot of the cross, the burden of our sin is taken and forgiveness is freely given and relationship with our Creator is restored. For the Cross is the profound answer to our foolish ways of thinking and living. For this is the wisdom of God and the grace of God overcoming our self-centredness. Through His death and resurrection, He has re-established His Kingship over the whole world. He defeated the power of Satan, sin and death. The resurrection inaugurates the kingdom of God and Jesus has promised to completely restore the new heaven and earth. The ancient hope that the glory of God would fill the earth is coming true.

If God has revealed Himself so sublimely in the incarnation, then the reality of loving God and neighbour is to be lived out in the classroom, playground, in staff meetings and in service beyond the school walls. Neither is excluded from the scope of Christ’s Kingship. Every area of life becomes a place of nearness and service to the Lord. We are participants in God’s great recreation project.

I remember a senior student who was a dedicated disciple of Jesus and was part of a team that we took to serve in a Christian school in a slum area of Kampala. In that time, the students be-friended some teenagers whose poverty was visibly seen in their unwashed and ripped jeans and T-shirts. This student was touched by the plight of these teenagers and sought to reach out with the love of Jesus. She also commented about the fact that jeans with holes in them were a fashion statement in Australia and could cost a couple of hundred dollars to buy.

She suddenly saw the materialism of her culture in a new light and saw that the true love of the Saviour inspires sacrificial love. How could she steward her resources to bring the love of Jesus to others? The Spirit had touched her heart and made the Word of God life-changing for the way she lived. In Christ’s hands, our students can become channels for divine human interaction, whereby God can enter the lives of others and change them.

Young people, like this student, can be used by God to change the lives of others.

May the Lord lead us to design teaching and learning strategies that teach and engage the whole person – not just the intellect. For as we live in God’s story, we give a picture of what it looks like to live a truly human life – it looks like Jesus.

“For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” (Romans 8:29)

Grace and Peace

The Excellence Centre