If you are using the illustration at the beginning of the talk then start the service with a quick game of “I spy”.
The illustration highlighted in green below is personal to one of the Zone2 team but you could replace it with a similar illustration of your own or simply retell it as a story.
I’m one of six children and when we were all a lot younger my siblings and I were on the way back from the park when my Dad decided to play a game of I spy… We started with the usual stuff – something beginning with C “A car!” or something beginning with S “The sky!”. After a few goes it was my Dad’s turn. The conversation went something like this:
“I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with G”
“Erm… Green car”
“Erm… Where can you see grapes”
This went on for a while. Eventually we started to ask for clues – “what direction is it in” he’d look round for a minute and then say “oh – I can see it if I look over there” and we’d spend five minutes staring into the distance trying to work out what this thing beginning with a “G” was, then he’d change his mind and look up to the sky: “I can see it this way too!”
Anyone want to guess?
You have no idea how annoyed I was as a kid when I found that out.
What’s the point of this story? Well today’s reading is about people who were looking for something and yet when it came along they missed it entirely.
John starts this passage with a few words about “The Word”
In the beginning the Word already existed…
One translation says: In the beginning was the Word…
Another puts it like this: The Word was first…
So the start of our story is “the Word” – John makes it clear that the Word is Jesus and that Jesus was there before the world began, in fact it was created through him.
Throughout the Old Testament the people of Israel are waiting for the day, the moment that Messiah will arrive and yet when it happens they miss it.
So what caused them to miss out?
One of the reasons was their expectations of what Jesus would be like. They thought he would be a military leader who would overthrow the Romans. They thought he would come to restore Israel to its former glories and that he would only be interested in the people Israel. So when he turned up telling people to love their enemies, to put others before themselves and even opened up the possibility that the kingdom of God might just be for everyone, Jew or Gentile it just didn’t add up for them. The NIV translation uses a weird phrase that kind of makes sense when you get that this is what it is talking about. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”
So what did they miss out on?
For that we need to go back to the passage:
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
This is a passage that many of us will have read loads of times but it is worth stopping to think about just how life changing this actually is.
To all who accepted him – that’s those people back then and us right now – he gave the right to become children of God.
Children who have a future, who are forgiven, who are loved unconditionally and who have a heavenly father who has great plans for them and wants the best for them.
If it isn’t amazing enough that we can become children of God, then the entry requirements are even better.
You see it isn’t “to those who achieved perfection did enough to become children of God” or even “to those who tried really hard” but simply “to those who believed him and accepted him” – but even when it was that simple people still rejected him!
Are you in danger of missing out on becoming a child of God or even knowing that you already are a child of God this year?
Are your expectations of who Jesus is getting in the way? Do you feel like you need to try more, to work harder, to give more, read your bible more or pray more before God will accept you as his child? Perhaps the thing that is getting in the way what you think Jesus’ expectations are of you. Maybe you think that you just need to get that one bit of your life sorted and then maybe you’ll be good enough to be in God’s family?
Well this morning I want to remind you that to be a child of God all you need to do is believe and accept Jesus. It is as simple as that. If you can do that then you don’t need to do any more to be a part of his family!
I Spy – Do
Printed copies of questions for each table OR Copy of the questions on a PowerPoint.
Play a game of “I spy” with some of the people around you. Afterwards answer the following question: What do you see in the world around you that points you to God and what can you do to make sure that you see him more this year?
I Spy – Reflect
Printed copies of John 1:1-14
Read through the passage again slowly and allow one word, phrase or idea to stand out to you. What is God saying to you today?
I Spy – Make:
Printable cutout glasses – Search Google Images for “Cutout Glasses”
How does being a child of God affect the way that you see yourself?
You know that you are accepted, forgiven, loved unconditionally.
Cut out and build some card glasses and decorate them with words or phrases that show how you see yourself differently when you become a child of God.
I Spy – Pray:
For many people the idea of being a child of God is one that they don’t find particularly natural or easy to understand. Others might find it hard to believe that God is a loving Father or that He wants them as his child.
Offer a quiet space where people can come to be prayed for by a member of your team.