The Incomplete Message of John 3:16

My apartment is a veritable maze of boxes in various stages of packing. My cat, Emma, is enjoying all the new viewing stages and resting spots all these boxes are providing. But why a cat would prefer to sleep on top of a hard cardboard box rather than her cushioned chair is a mystery to me. For myself, I am sick of looking at boxes! And I can’t believe that this small apartment holds so much stuff! At the end of the day, I feel like a lab rat who has to negotiate a maze before I can get my treat – which in my case would be my bed!

Because of all that is going on in my brain as I prepare for our move, there hasn’t been a lot of brain power left over to write a new post. But I thought that I would take a few minutes today to write a short one.

This morning, as I was performing my morning ritual of ‘bathing in the glow’ of my SAD lamp (that’s a light for those of us who are on the ‘dim’ side of things during the winter) I watched a DVD of Chonda Pierce, who is a Christian comedienne. Although she is humourous, her humour often contains important lessons for those of us who call ourselves Christians.

One of her stories was about how she went into a Christian bookstore with a Jewish man, who had never before been in a Christian bookstore. He noted all the products that had ‘John 3:16’ printed on them. He asked Chonda if that was an important date for Christians. He was interested because his birthday was March, 16th.

Chonda explained that John 3:16 indicated the book, chapter and verse where a truth (I would say the main truth) of God’s word could be found. And this is that truth:

Joh 3:16 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.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you probably know that verse off by heart. It contains two unchangeable truths 1) God loves us and he loves us so much, that He sent His son to die for us 2) If we believe in Jesus, who he is and what he did for us, then we will live for eternity.

Now we Christians may say “Yes, I know that. Yup, I get it.” And if we truly do ‘get it’ then we should be sharing that good news with others – and maybe you do. But that isn’t all of the story and the truth that is contained in that small section of scripture. And this is what Chonda continued to point out in her story – how the scripture goes on to say:

Joh 3:17, 18 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes on Him is not condemned,…

And I think that it is right there that many of us Christians get God’s message wrong. We may be good about spouting off John 3:16 but we neglect to back it up with behaviour that supports those next two verses. Notice vs. 17 states that God DID NOT send Jesus into the world to condemn the world. Without salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, this world is condemned already. You don’t have to look too far to see the glaring evidence of sin, wickedness and evil that is present in this world. God did not send Jesus into the world to ‘rub salt into the wound’, as it were, of this hurting world. God sent Jesus to love us back into His kingdom.

And that is where we often get it so terribly wrong. As Christians, we are way too ready, willing and eager to look upon others with judgement and condemnation. God’s Word plainly tells us that He did not use Jesus to bring condemnation upon us, but – oh how often do we use Jesus to bring condemnation upon others – both unbelievers and believers?

Yes, the sad truth is that Christians can be very hurtful towards others. I was once told that the term ‘Bible thumpers’ could be used to describe those Christians who like to use the Word of God to ‘thump’ people with correction. We use God’s Word to condemn people for what they wear, for how they look, for what they eat, for what they say, for what they do and for what they have done. We use Jesus as a weapon to cut people down rather than a tool to build people up.

John 3:17 states that the world is saved through Jesus. How did Jesus bring people to salvation? Was it with judgement, criticism and condemnation? No, he brought people to salvation by speaking the truth with LOVE and in LOVE. “LOVE” is who God is.

1Jn 4:8 The one who does not love has not known God. For God is love.

When we condemn others, we are not operating in the love of God. And if we are not operating in God’s love, in His way of loving, then we are not ‘of God’. And if we are not ‘of God’ we can not call ourselves Christians.

1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God.
1Jn 4:8 The one who does not love has not known God.

So the next time you tell someone about John 3:16, don’t forget that the message is incomplete if you neglect the truth about ‘no condemnation’.

1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God

Blessings

 

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