Jesus Christ said: I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in his fullest.
The Frankfurt Book Fair celebrated its 70th birthday this month. The main topic was the United Nations Human Rights Declaration 70 years ago. The campaign "I'm On The Same Page" campaigns for human rights. "I'm On The Same Page", the book fair wanted to make it clear that it is on the side of human rights.
Human rights are something normal for me European citizen. Freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, religious freedom and freedom of expression are as natural as clean drinking water. The fundamental right to freedom of information is also a matter of course for me. Only with freedom of information a person can form his own opinion at all. Also a critical opinion! For many people, these basic rights are unfortunately foreign words, they are unfortunately withhold.
I often met the slogan "I'm On The Same Page" during the book fair (at the photo, for example, at a bus stop). "I'm on the same page," which reminded me of the biblical message. Jesus Christ says: I am on the same side as you! I am on your side!
God is on our side. On each side of the New Testament, Jesus Christ tells of the unprecedented esteem that God has for every human being. It tells pages and pages about the unique love of God for us humans. Side by side it informs that God wants our life. And a life in all its fullness. A life that is not limited by a lack of freedom or a lack of love. Jesus Christ informs us how God is. He shows us the nature of God.
At the opening ceremony of the book fair, the German-Georgian female writer Nino Haratischwili told a little story from her homeland. Between Georgia and Russia there are so-called "creeping borders". Again and again Russian soldiers tried to push the frontiers a little bit forward. So one morning a farmer suddenly woke up in Russian territory. But he persistently refused to give up his farm and his son's grave (Source: Frankfurter Neue Presse, 10th October 2018, p. 21 "Whoever wants to open borders must be strong").
Jesus Christ also told a story about agriculture that deals with shifting borders (Source: New Testament, Gospel of John, Chapter 10): A shepherd goes to his sheep. He enters the sheepfold through the door. Actually a matter of course (just like human rights). He does not climb over the wall, he does not gain unauthorized access. This good shepherd is not a thief, not a robber.
Jesus tells his listeners: I am this good shepherd. I bring life in all its fullness to every person who belongs to me. Jesus opens the border to life. Jesus warns of the secret border shifters coming through the back door. False savior who robs, murders and destroys. False salvation bringers who do not build up but destroy lives.
Jesus Christ does not steal, he does not rob. He does not rob us of thinking, he does not manipulate. He is the truth. He also does not steal the freedom of anyone. On the contrary: He liberates to life, he gives with his power.
Only He, the Son of God, brings life. Only He, the Messiah, gives life. For that he sacrificed himself on the cross. He died for that. His resurrection is stronger than death. He showed the limit to death. Death has no power over him (Romans chapter 6, 3 ff).
The fullness of his love is shown in the fruits that are to grow in a man's heart: love of neighbor and enemy, joy, peace (at my borders), patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5: 22-23 ). On this page, on this side we find Jesus Christ.
That everybody gets who wants it. Is it not time to go to the homeland of life and leave behind what life wants to prevent?
In her imagination, for the writer Nino Haratischwili, the story of the farmer and soldiers went on: The farmer won with his steadfastness against the soldier. The soldier took off again. How would YOU tell this story?
I would continue this story: the soldier puts the gun out of his hand, takes off his uniform and becomes a farmer. He overcomes the border of injustice and buys the land next to his neighbor. And these neighbors become friends. The soldier enters the uncharted territory of love-the-enemy, peace, friendliness. He turns his weapon into a ploughshare.
An utopia? I think not. Since 70 years we Europeans live in peace. Archenemy became peaceful neighbors. Borders were overcome. Let us take care not to build boundaries in our heads and hearts again.
Jesus Christ invites you to break down barriers. Limits to fellow human beings, limits to him. He invites you to let him into life, into thinking. He wants to bring peace with his abundance of life. Because HE is on our side! Am I also on HIS side?
A blessed week wishes you
Hans Peter Nann
If you want to pray, but the words are missing, here is a prepared prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ,
I thank you for being on my side.
Thank you for giving me life with all its fullness.
I ask for peace in my life, in my thoughts, in my heart.
I ask you, let me overcome boundaries: limits of hate, limits of egoism.
I want to stand on your side, on the side of the living God.