3And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
"True" God? Meaning there are false gods? Well, yes. We do believe we have seen in the face of Jesus who God really is, and what God's reality looks like. The true God is one who sacrifices himself for the sake of the world: "God so loved the world." The true God is one who washes feet and serves: "at the supper Jesus got up and took a towel around his waste and washed his disciples feet." The true God's true glory is on the cross, pinned to two pieces of wood: "as I am lifted up I will draw all people unto myself." We do have a strange view of God. But we believe and trust and proclaim that at the heart of God is mercy, and forgiveness, and love. The face of God looks like the face of Jesus.
Yes, other faiths have a hard time with what we believe. Our God in Christ doesn't act like gods are supposed to act. My friend David says of the incarnation: "the incarnation of God in Jesus is hard for Jews because it reduces the godhead, and God can't be, shouldn't be reduced." "Reduced?" What an interesting way to put the incarnation. And yet I tell him but strangely that is the hope we proclaim as Christians, that God understands the human journey by reducing, condescending himself to us.
And because God has reduced himself, we are called to reduce ourselves and learn to serve. This is the only way, according to Christianity, for us to find life.
It is our truth and who we believe is the true God behind the universe that is a hard thing to swallow, as the Apostle Paul puts it, our faith is "a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Greeks." But for those of us who believe in such a God, Jesus says, will know eternal life.
After all these years of worshipping such a God, and serving Jesus, his Son, you know, I think Jesus is right, heaven is real. But I don't have to wait till I die to know it; I have known it right now, living under the light of the true God in the face of Jesus in his church through mission trips, food pantries, flea markets, hospital visits....... Amen.