Author: Deborah Conner
Scripture: John 3: 16-21
Key verse: (17) “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Reflection: We live in a time when there is a lot of criticism aimed toward the Christian Church — some of it for good reason. There have been crimes committed by church leaders who cross boundaries of behavior harming others. But, there are other things that Christian people do that aren’t criminal but color many people’s attitudes about religion and the church. We can be judgmental and overbearing. We can turn away from people who are different. We can focus on ourselves and neglect the hungry, homeless, poor and hurting. We forget to share Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness outside of our own comfortable circles. Intentionally or unintentionally we can act as if we are “in” and others are “out”. We can distort and twist the words of scripture to harm rather than heal.
Today’s scripture passage reminds us why Jesus came into the world — to show us God’s love. He came to save; not to condemn. He came to bring people together; not drive them apart. All of us depend on God’s great love and mercy. None of us is better than anyone else in God’s eyes. This can be a hard reality to accept: God loves everyone. What might happen if we share this kind of saving love with others?
During the season of Advent, we prepare to welcome Jesus into our lives again with renewed vigor. We remember his humble birth and his saving love. We remember that the little baby in Bethlehem will go on to be a great prophet and teacher, as well as, our Lord and Savior. Even in the face of death, his love will prevail. This message of hope transcends all the traditions of Advent and Christmas reminding us that we belong to the God who sent the Son into the world to save. What wondrous love this is for us!
Prayer: Gracious God, help us to live in the light of your love that drives away darkness and fear. Forgive us when we forget you came into the world to offer eternal life to everyone; not just some. Give us wisdom and courage to share your hope and love with others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].