What is Christian Literacy?
Literacy refers to the ability to use a language - to know what words means, to be able to use grammar, sentence structure, to be able to converse in that language is to be literate.
Religious literacy means having the ability to understand and speak about our faith intelligently. It’s the ability to communicate the basic tenets of our religion.
I'm very grateful to B.U. Professor Stephen Prothero for his excellent book, "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't." This book, along with my desire to teach the faith, served as the inspiration for this effort.
Friday, January 18, 2013
The "I Am" Statements
Each of the 4 Gospels has its unique features. Matthew uses the phrase, "this happened to fulfill what was written by the prophet . . ." because Matthew's aim is to demonstrate that Jesus is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, foretold by the prophets. Mark uses the word "immediately" a lot, as he tells us story after story of a fast-moving Messiah. Luke pays special attention to the poor, to women and to prayer.
The key feature of the Gospel of John are the "I Am" statements of Jesus.
Here they are:
"I am the bread of life" (John 6:35, 48, 51)
"I am the light of the world" (John 8:12)
"I am the door of the sheep"(John 10:7, 9)
"I am the good shepherd" (John 10:11, 14)
"I am the resurrection, and the life" (John 11:25)
"I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6)
"I am the true vine" (John 15:1, 5)
They're very similar to statements attributed to God in the Old Testament - "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt." They're also an intentional echo of the name of God given to Moses at the burning bush - '"I am who I am," said the Lord. Tell them 'I Am' has sent you" (Ex. 3:14). Jesus clearly has this in mind when he says, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). Poor grammar (in all due respect), amazing theology.
Question: Which of these statements is most meaningful to you? Which one best describes your experience of Christ?
Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for giving us a variety of ways to understand who you are for us. Amen.
Extra Credit: Praying the "I Am's"
The goal of the Bible is to lead us to God. Therefore I always try to read scripture asking myself the question - how can I pray this into my life. Meditating on each of these statements would be one powerful way. Here's another way.
"I am the bread of life" (John 6:35,48,51).
Feed me, dead Lord, with this Bread.
"I am the light of the world" (John 8:12).
Shine your Light upon me and in front of me always.
"I am the door of the sheep"(John 10:7,9).
Bless my going out and my coming in, O God. Lead me through your Door.
"I am the good shepherd" (John 10:11,14).
I need You, Good Shepherd. Keep me close to your side.
"I am the resurrection, and the life" (John 11:25).
Help me to live in the New Life of your Resurrection, now and forever.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).
Help me to follow in your Way, to know your Truth, to be filled with your Life.
"I am the true vine" (John 15:1,5).
Keep me connected to the True Vine that I might produce the fruit You desire.