“This is how much God loved the world: God gave his Son, God’s one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Christ, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. Christ came to help, to put the world right again.” [John 3:16-17; The Message]
We see John 3:16 on billboards and at football games. When I see it, it makes me cringe because this passage is often interpreted to say, “I’m in and you’re not.” “I’m saved and you’re not.” It is a scare tactic passage. You better accept Christ or else! I prefer to bring people to Christ through grace and love, not fear. Yet, if we really take the time to read this passage, we learn that God didn’t send Jesus to condemn the world. This is good news! As Richard Rohr writes, “A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else. That is a definition that will never fail you, always demand more of you, and give you no reasons to fight, exclude, or reject anyone.” Why? Because God so loved the world, not just a part of it. John tells us that light has come into the world. The problem is some among us reject the light – the way of love lived by Jesus. The way of love that makes room for everyone. “For Christ came to help, to put the world right again.”
God of heaven and earth, I confess that I am often comfortable excluding others. Forgive me for not remembering that you love the world, the whole world and everyone in it. Your love demands more of me, and I pray for the courage to live the way of love. Amen.