Thursday, July 21, 2011

For God so loved! - July 21st, 2011

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

History and Context:
Everyone knows this verse, but few have paid attention to the context in which it was said. Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews as the Bible states, comes to Jesus at night and declares that He is a teacher come from God. Jesus responds by claiming that in order to see God's kingdom one has to be "born again". A discussion then follows on what it means to be born again, leading to this powerful verse which we all know and is the first verse which we memorize.

The Text:
This is the most popular scripture in the Bible. It is the first one we all memorize and because of that it has, tragically, become common to us. We hear it and forget what it means; we forget it's power. "God so loved the world..." There are two, equally wrong, interpretations of the Bible which this scripture alone goes against. The first is that God hates sinners. We continually see 'christians' on the news holding up signs saying things like "God hates homosexuals" or other hateful sayings. This is directly refuted in this one simple phrase "God so loved the world...". If God loves the world, why are His followers spewing hate? The second view is that God loves the world so everyone is going to heaven no matter what their religion is. This is dispelled in the second part of this scripture "...whoever believes in Him..." Again it is very clear that people must believe in Him in order to have everlasting life. God loves the world, but they must believe and accept the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross in order to have everlasting life.

The Challenge:
First study this scripture and this chapter. Truly understand what it is saying, because it is powerful. Now understand this, God has chosen us to spread the Gospel. "God so loved the world", do you? Do you truly love those out in the world? When did you last show that love? As true followers of Christ we must love the world. John, in his first letter, makes it clear that love of God and love of people is one in the same. We cannot truly love God unless we love people. Be conscious today about showing the love of God to those around you.

The Prayer:
Lord, I pray that you would help me to love those around me. Give me creative ways to show your love to everyone I come in contact with today. In Jesus' name, Amen!

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