Read John 3-4
Highlight: John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
We can look around at the mess of our world and wonder how God could possibly love us. This scripture is a shining star, because it reminds us of a fundamental truth – God loves us. Our world is a mess, but God sent Jesus, not to point a finger or send down lightning bolts of judgment to condemn us. God sent Jesus out of love, to save us.
See God’s character made evident in this passage – God is kind, welcoming and gentle with us. God has great hopes for us. God wants us to believe in his son, Jesus, because God doesn’t want to condemn us. God wants to rescue us from the messes we make. God allows us to make a choice. God will not compel us to believe, but invites us to accept his promise of eternal life through faith in Jesus.
God sent Jesus into the world with a holy mission: to bring us back from the unholy places where we have gone, to reclaim us as his own, and set us on a path to eternal life through faith in his only son, Jesus. God’s holy mission is one of love, not judgment, except for those who choose not to believe in him.
What does this mean for me? I rejoice to say that I believe Christ died for me to take away sin and judgment. I am humbled by God’s love, because I certainly don’t deserve it! But even more, God’s love compels me to want to treat others with the same gentleness, compassion, respect and care that God has shown me. I want to give someone a second (or third or fourth!) chance, as God has given me. I want to withhold judgment as long as possible, to give someone another opportunity to make a change. That’s difficult to do, because I am all too ready to be sarcastic and scornful.
Just for today, God’s love inspires me to want to try again to treat others as God has treated me. But also, today is an opportunity to let my words and actions invite others to see God at work, loving them as God loves me. That’s the God I love and want others to love too.
Dear God, let me surrender to your love, offered through Jesus Christ our savior. Let me revel in your unconditional grace, given in the cross. Shine your love on all whom I meet today, and shine through me to the glory of your name, for this I pray in Jesus Christ. Amen.