Our Gospel reading for today includes one of the most familiar verses in Christendom. We hear it, say it, and memorize it – but do we follow up with the verse after?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
Yesterday as my brother and I walked on Duke of Gloucester Street in downtown Williamsburg (teeming with tourists, students jogging and at least half our town walking their dogs) we heard several street preachers lashing out at everyone.
Hellfire and brimstone, judgment and condemnation. Frankly, while I respect street preachers’ verve to share their faith, I’m not sure that’s the way to go about sharing (and being) the love of Jesus to passersby.
The point of John 3:16 – the first point – is that God loves us. God loves us so much God sent Jesus to share His love with us, to be sacrificial Love (the capital “L” kind) for us on the Cross. God sent Jesus into our world not to condemn us (as John 3:17 makes abundantly clear) but TO SAVE US.
Because God loves us, full stop. Yes, we are screw-ups who need God’s mercy on a regular basis, but God’s mercy flows out of the deep well of God’s love for us. That should be the focus of what we share: THE LOVE OF GOD FOR ALL OF US.
The love of God that heals hurting bits of our hearts and lifts our lives from despondency. The love of God that redeems us, infuses our outlooks with hope, and permeates our lives with effervescent joy (especially when times are tough.)
Before Preacher Virginia steps down from her soapbox, here are more favorite verses:
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment… (I John 4:16-18)
If the love of Jesus lives in our hearts there’s no room for fear and condemnation, because “perfect love drives out fear.” On this fourth Sunday of Lent maybe we should ask Jesus to open the eyes of our hearts to see others (especially those we can’t stand) with the lenses of His love that seeks to save – not condemn.
grace, peace & EVERLASTING LOVE
Virginia : )
“This I have known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point, God is nevertheless love…God is love, not God was love, nor, God will be love, oh no, God is love. Like spring water which keeps the same temperature summer and winter – so is God’s love. God’s love is a spring that never runs dry.” Søren Kierkegaard
p.s. Photos taken by Virginia (the person) in Williamsburg, Virginia (the state)