In the beginning was the Word
One of the most common questions about prayer is this: “Should I really pray to God about such and such?” Sometimes we feel that “bothering God” with the minutiae of our lives is beneath the majesty of the Most High. Surely God is too lofty to consider me? What He wants are grand acts of devotion, not needy requests.
This is nonsense – but we all fall into such thinking. That’s why we need the Apostle John to revolutionize our thinking. Listen to the opening phrase of His Gospel::
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1)
John takes us to the ultimate beginning: Genesis. The God who was “in the beginning” was not Word-less but Word-full. Indeed it is by the Word that He has made all things. But God and His Word go way back – before creation. God has never been without His Word. He has always had Another alongside Him.
This “Other” is “with” Him (v1) and “in His bosom” (v18). Verse 17 names Him most clearly as “Jesus Christ.” But there are three other names by which He is known in this chapter: the Word (v1), the Light (v4) and the only begotten Son (v18).
We could spend years considering what such names mean for Jesus. But, for now, let’s explore what this means for the God in Whose bosom Jesus has ever dwelt.
It means that God is eternally Speaker/ Shiner /Father. Rewind the tape into the depths of eternity and you will only ever see the Speaker communicating His eternal Word, the Shiner radiating His eternal Light, the Father begetting His eternal Son.
This is wonderful news, because these three qualities are quintessentially outgoing characteristics. God is not first God (in all His Godness) and then Speaker / Shiner / Father. No, God has never been anything other than Speaker / Shiner / Father. God is other-centred, to the depths of eternity and to the core of His Being.
Someone who grasped this and its profound pastoral impact was the puritan Richard Sibbes. He wrote:
“God’s goodness is a communicative, spreading goodness. . . . If God had not a communicative, spreading goodness, he would never have created the world. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost were happy in themselves and enjoyed one another before the world was. But that God delights to communicate and spread his goodness, there had never been a creation nor a redemption. God useth his creatures not for defect of power, that he can do nothing without them, but for the spreading of his goodness. . . ”
God is a Speaker, a Radiating Light, a Father, a Fountain and a spreading goodness. He is not first concerned for Himself and then complaisant to the needs of others. His whole being is condescension!
Remember this next time you pray. God’s life and being are directed outwards. We do not exist as a distraction from His divine glory. We’ve been birthed by that glory – an outgoing glory that delights in affirming and upholding the other.
He is more committed to listening than we are of praying. More desirous of helping than we are of help. His “goodness is a communicative, spreading goodness.” So now, speak to your Father who loves you more than His own life.