The Bible affirms that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. John asserts that “the true light” that is the divine presence “enlightens everyone.”
We are born bearers of light. The divine radiance is our true nature as beings created in the image of God. But, we know that we do not always live in this light. Sadly, our lives are often out of alignment with the Divine Light that “enlightens everyone.”
So, there is something we must do in response to the inevitable disorder that comes into our lives when we fall away from our true self.
Early in his Gospel, John introduces John the Baptist. John the Baptist came to call people to respond to the Light. John uses four words to describe the desired response.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:6-13)
John the Baptist came to call those to whom he testified to “believe”, “know”, “accept”, and “receive” the one to whom he pointed.
The four words are really four ways of saying the same thing. John the Baptist called people to “believe.” The Greek word “pisteuo” is a crucial concept throughout the Gospel of John. It contains three separate but related senses.
1. “Pisteuo” is a way of thinking. It means that we choose to think a particular thing is true. We are persuaded of, or have confidence in, a particular view of the world and of life. In this sense every human being practices “pisteuo“. We all have a worldview that shapes our lives. We have all chosen to believe that certain things are true and other things are not true.
But “pisteuo” in John’s Gospel goes beyond mere intellectual assent to particular mental constructs.
2. “Pisteuo” also carries a sense of being impelled by a certain inner urging in the depths of our being. There is some inexplicable deep inner stirring that most of us have experienced at times in our lives. We have an intuitive knowing that is not simply rational and has not been worked out by any clearly delineated mental processes. We have a gut feeling about something, a subtle inner pull towards a course of action, or a way of thinking. We cannot adequately explain where it comes from, but we know it is calling us to act in particular ways and we must respond.
Our response to the inner stirring in our being is the third sense of “pisteuo“.
3. “Pisteuo” in this third sense could be translated as “trust.” We choose to trust that inner urging. We “accept” the stirring within, receiving the voice that speaks subtly and gently in our spirit. We make the choice over and over to open or close to the Divine. When we choose to “pisteuo” we choose to “know” God, allowing our lives to come into alignment with God’s Spirit.
Christmas is the season of faith. It is a time when the Deep Mystery stirs most noticeably all around. In this Advent season, I pray that I may pay attention to those deep stirrings in which the voice of God speaks in my life. I pray that I may open and soften to the deepest rhythms of life and choose to trust the flow of that Love in whose image I have been created.