“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Those verses from John 1:1-5 are familiar ones, along with John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

These verses present important points, but they are somewhat difficult to understand. It would be worthwhile to give a general overview and leave the exegesis to scholars.

The verses reveal the eternal nature of the Word, God and Jesus. The three are presented as distinct but of the same essence. It is within their coexistence that all things are possible. The gift of life is announced, and the light of mankind reveals the valuable qualities of life. Life without this light would be thrown into darkness. Then the Word became flesh as Jesus came with grace and truth to reveal the knowledge of God and the possibilities of relationships. The word incarnate brings the gifts of life.

There are different translations and interpretations, but we can find individual understanding. I remember a discussion in divinity school in which some of the Hebrew and Greek meanings of different English words found in the Bible were explained. I am not a Hebrew scholar, but I was told that the Hebrew word “dewar,” could be translated as “Door to the House of the Beginning.”

I also checked the Greek translation for Word and found it to mean logos (reason); however, the Biblical definition sometimes includes the “rational, eternal and creative energy of the universe” and “the force that originated and permeated and directed all things.”

Simply stated, it was called “the action of God’s utterance.”

As God spoke, things materialized.

The Word opened the door to a new beginning. In turn, with the promise of life and the light of mankind, Christians are in a position to open the doors of understanding and sharing the gifts from God.

I checked sources for the Hebrew meanings of English words and found that the Hebrew “avodah” can mean “work, worship and service.” To use work, worship and service in a religious context means Christians would first have read and studied God’s word individually and in church. The door to the heart must be opened to receive the literal and spiritual messages found in the Bible, in church and through prayer. Then the moving examples of service seen in the words and actions of Jesus, his disciples and the first-century Christians would provide guidance. These followers of Jesus dedicated and even gave their lives to spreading the word by opening many doors across a vast region.

Christians today receive the Word of God in three ways.

First, the Word is written in the Bible as it leads to Jesus. Second, the Word became flesh (in Jesus or incarnate). Third, the Word is taught in the church and believers live it. Those three ways can open doors.

In closing, I ask a question: “How do Christians spread and follow the words of Jesus?” In other words, “How do they serve?”

I have met and read about churches and Christians who take seriously the instructions given by Jesus. They light the way for fellow humans.

Recently I read about Dr. R. A. Vernon, the pastor of The Word Church, who said he recently saw a man running from bullets, through a gas station on East 55th in Cleveland, Ohio. He asked local gas stations if the church could pump free gas for a short time for people with needs.

The church members gave people bags of groceries along with the free gas. Pastor Vernon should be recognized as one who takes his commitment to follow the words of Jesus seriously. The Rev. Vernon understands the plight of those in need. His statement should be a motto for Christians: “We can’t fix every bad thing; I think the community, the church’s job, is to fix what we can.” To serve according to one’s means is the lesson of story of the poor widow’s gift.

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Earl Crow’s column is published Saturdays in the Winston-Salem Journal. Email him at ecrow1@triad.rr.com.

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