Ideas, principles, keys, steps, how to’s, and grace

© October 5, 2018 | Schulter Etyang 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. 

John 1:1-2 (NKJV)

The Greek word that John used for the Word is logos. When John wrote these words, the Greeks believed in the logos. The Greeks defined logos as the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning

I will not go into detail in trying to explain how the logos evolved within Greek and Jewish philosophical thought. Needless to say, the simplest definition of logos is this – logos means reasoning or logic gathered together in the mind, and expressed in words, that gives our lives meaning. In our times, the Greek logos is ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s.

There’s no place that expresses the Greek logos better than the Ted Conference. The TED Conference provides a platform where ideas are expressed and embraced for the betterment of humanity. I am a fan of the TED Conference. I enjoy listening to speakers talk about ideas that could change the world. This year I am planning to attend our local version of the TED conference here in Johannesburg. This year’s theme is Decoding Greatness 

There are some fundamental problems with the Greek logos 

  1. It is very context specific. What works in the USA might not necessarily work here in South Africa – same for man and woman – rich and poor – literate and the illiterate. The Greek Logos is very context specific. 
  2. The Greek Logos is abstract. It exists in thoughts and ideas but does not have physical or concrete existence. It’s out there in the ethereal. It’s impersonal. 
  3. The Greek Logos is the epitome of the carrot and stick approach – You are only rewarded when you apply the logos. Failure to apply correctly, and you suffer the consequences. 

John’s logos

John sought to offer a different worldview. He opened his letter by boldly declaring that the Greek logos is a person. John then made a gender disclaimer that this person is a Him. The Greeks had their versions of god, however, John made sure that the reader knew he was writing about Jesus Christ. John’s claim that Jesus was the logos was bold, to say the least.

John 1:14 (NKJV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:17-18 (NKJV)

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

John’s idea of logos is that logos found its embodiment in a human body – Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the logos. He is the summation of all ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s. The Greeks said you needed ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s, to flourish, John said that all these ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s, are embodied in the person of Jesus. 

So, what’s the church for? The Church exists to reveal the logos to the world – the person of Jesus. This is what makes the church counter-cultural, counterintuitive and subversive. In the church, you get to meet the person of Jesus because we have this claim that we are the body of Christ. We are flesh of his flesh and bones of his bones. The church is the visible, physical, personal and concrete representation of Jesus in the world. 

It is confusing, then, to many when they come to Church, and all they hear are ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s, on how they could better their lives and change the world, yet they could pay some fees and listen to Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Les Brown, or South Africa’s very own Vusi Thembekwayo, Sibusiso Vilane, say the same things, even better. 

Of course, one might wonder what Jesus has to offer the world. One thing Jesus offers the world that ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s, don’t offer is grace. Grace – you can receive what you don’t deserve because Jesus received what you deserved. The world runs on the track of ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s – you have to do it, it depends on you, and if you fail to, you will be punished. Grace, on the other hand, runs on Jesus and his work for us – he is the logos – ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s. 

If grace were to share the same stage at a TED Conference with ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s, the difference would be clear for all to see. And unlike the context-specific nature of logos, grace fits into every context, culture, geographic location, gender, age, sexuality, social status, educational background, race, and religion. 

What would you rather have – ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s, that are abstract and impersonal with the possibility that you could be punished when you fail? Or a person that loves you to the uttermost, died for you, and now will live in you so that he can live out through you the best ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s.

I want the person of Jesus because having him is having the best ideas, principles, keys, steps, and how to’s.

That’s what grace looks like