S (Scripture): John 20:30 Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 20:31 But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
O (Observation): This text is a rare gem, because we get an explanation as to why the author wrote this text. John seems to be mostly concerned about making sure that people believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God, so that they might have life.
What might seem to be a weird question is this: Was this text written for people who are already believed somewhat in Jesus or was it used as evangelistic tool for unbelievers? Well, how about both?!?!
This Gospel explains some basics for non-believers and deepens faith and understanding for those with some sense of belief and an existing faith.
A (Application): “Moving the needle.”
In a discipleship group that I lead, we’ve talked about moving forward in faith by “moving the needle.”
For the sake of discussion, we imagined that faith could be measured in a linear scale (-5 to +5). If we engage someone and over time they move from a -4 to a -2, isn’t that a celebration? Like maybe they go from “not being able to stand church people” to “maybe I’ll come to your Theology on Tap group tomorrow.” Or, if someone moves from a +1 to a +2, isn’t that to be celebrated? Like when a church member who is not active in the church begins to connect their spiritual gifts for service in their home and community.
The wonderful news about our faith is that the Spirit is guiding us. The Spirit flows into us and creates the spark of our faith, or fans the flame, as the case may be.
Not only can a Gospel text create or strengthen faith, but we can, too! We can be the ones starting or strengthening relationships that can aid in the Spirit’s work. Our hands and feet and eyes and ears can help “move the needle” of faith for others.
We are created to strengthen the faith of others and help create the space for a spark of faith to be produced.
Many, many times, in my youth (at church, on retreat, at home), I was part of safe spaces and surrounded by mentors in the faith. All of what they poured into me moved my needle over and over again, thanks to the gift of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God.
How have you experienced this “moving of the needle”? Have you helped create the space for a spark to occur? Have you received that space from others? Have you helped someone deepen their faith? Has someone helped you do the same?
P (Prayer): Lord, you continue to amaze me with your gift of the written Word. Help us to use these words and inspire us to be your co-creators of faith alongside the Living Word, Jesus Christ. Amen.