The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn't put it out.
There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn't even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn't want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
John pointed him out and called, "This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word."
We all live off his generous bounty,
gift after gift after gift.
We got the basics from Moses,
and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
This endless knowing and understanding—
all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
No one has ever seen God,
not so much as a glimpse.
This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
who exists at the very heart of the Father,
has made him plain as day.
I love this passage. And my favorite line in Peterson’s rendering of John 1:1-18 is this one, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
This sentence has captured my imagination for years. As I consider my calling as a pastor and follower of Christ, this sentence more than any other may have shaped my understanding of what it is that we are called to do.
There is something so immediate and personal about this sentence.
Jesus was not some figment of someone’s imagination. He was flesh and blood. He ate and drank. He slept. He cried. He laughed. He got frustrated. He got angry. He told stories. He had friends. Jesus was one of us. He suffered. He died.
He was flesh and blood.
He lived in our neighborhood.
You know what, it’s like that for a lot of us. We are flesh and blood and we live in the neighborhood. When you live in the neighborhood you end up loving your neighbors. They become part of who you are. Their story and your story intertwine. It’s a pretty beautiful thing.
Many people have a house in a neighborhood but don’t really live there. They build up a fence (literally in some cases) and never enter in to the life of the neighborhood. They miss out on so much. There’s so much life that happens in the neighborhood. Kids get born and grow up. People get old. Parties, bonfires, and group walks. Puppy play dates. Practical jokes. Golf outings with the boys. Wine outings with the girls.
Life happens in the neighborhood.
So yeah, when I think about what it means to be a pastor or even just to be a Christian, it means that we move into the neighborhood. We become part of the life of the neighborhood. We show up in flesh and blood and not just thoughts and prayers. Not with an ulterior motive either. We must show up to genuinely love our neighbor for the simple sake of loving our neighbor.
Jesus was flesh and blood and he lived in our neighborhood.