In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1 – 5)

As I was thinking and pondering on this passage, I remembered what I had said a few days ago – that I am not suggesting that we believe more strongly or more correctly, but we should believe more gently and with more compassion & mercy. I thought then, and I still think it is a good idea. What I am not sure of is how that approach might be supported by scripture. What I mean is that so often in scripture – both Old & New Testament – there is a vehemence to believe correctly and strongly. That is often the case when a faith tradition is just getting started. There is a push for correct belief, and belief that is unshakable. For instance, the Word of God is correct and unshakable, as was John the Baptist.

“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.” (Verses 6 – 8)

There was nothing gentle about John the Baptist. He came “roaring” in, demanding that people repent and live just righteous lives. Paul was much like him in that respect.

“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.” (Verses 9 – 13)

The question (or one of the questions) is, is that birthing into new life and new belief a gentle and compassionate one or one that is vehement and overwhelming?

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'”)
From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (Verses 14 – 17)

“The Word became flesh” – Mary was meek and mild. Jesus said his burden is light and his yoke is easy. Yet childbirth can be fierce and overwhelming. How does one discern the best way to live? I am not talking about theology but life approach. Are we to be brash and brisk – a John the Baptist or Paul? John the Baptist with all his brashness and vehemence doubted near the end of his life that he had (or would) give his life for the correct person, the promised Light. He sent a message to Jesus, remember, asking. Jesus’ answer was to assure him that people were being ministered to and their burdens lifted; that gentleness, compassion, and mercy were being given to them.

Paul asked for relief from the “thorn” in his side, that we image was fierce and overwhelming. He was answered that the Lord God’s grace would see him through. That the violence that tormented him would be met and overcome whatever weakness that Paul felt within himself. That there would be no powerful and sudden healing but grace and compassion extended to Paul.

Jesus was – most of the time – very gentle, compassionate, merciful, and yielding. Jesus was sent – not the only reason however – so that humanity might better know and understand the Divine.

“No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” (Verse 18)

I might, from time to time, forget or set aside for cause my message of gentle, compassionate, and merciful belief and living out that belief. But it is something I want to be mindful. I pray that the Divine might remind me of that not only as I write this year but as I live out my life this year. Selah!