Day 26 // March 11
Journey in light and love
Contributed by: Jay Horton, Ministry Coordinator
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Human One be lifted up so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
As Lent is a season of confession and repentance, I must confess and repent; for years I loathed this rock-star, record-quote, attention-hungry passage of scripture, John 3:16 (plus or minus a few verses).
I personally despised it because of the way it has been used by Christians for many years.
Often isolated from its context, people plaster it to their cars and faces and use it as a bizarre, exclusionary, contingency-based, evangelism technique. They emphasize the “everyone who believes in him… will have eternal life” part and then assume, in the face of non-believers, a you-will-burn-in-the-fires-of-hell-if-you-do-not-believe part. I may be exaggerating, but only slightly.
There is a clear message of extravagant and self-sacrificial love in the Bible and in these verses in particular; a love free from judgment and generously given to everyone that is should not be overshadowed by Christian ego. “God so loved…that he gave his only Son … into the world.” The WHOLE world. Not to judge it, but to save it.
As individuals, as a church, as a country, community, and world, how often have we emphasized policies and practices that create in-groups and out-groups, of believers and non-believers, of ‘true’ Christians and those others, rather than holistically embodying the first, principle message of love? After all, the Gospel of John begins with this proclamation of love and light for all people. I simply cannot understand these messages of “God will only love you if…” To quote Mother Teresa, “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”
As we continue on this journey in Lent, may we each try to generously give more love and more grace, prioritizing identity, experience, and dignity of others over our own personal goals. For as Saint John said, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.”
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