It’s late. It’s always late when God speaks to me loudest. Maybe because I’m still and there are no distractions. Maybe because I’m just listening harder. But I’ve found the most profound messages come at the most inopportune times. And what is profound is not always what is poignant.
Sermon Audio has an iPhone widget for the Notification Center that suggests two sermons and posts a verse everyday. It’s nifty; I glance at the widget at least 5 times a day. Today’s verse I hadn’t paid any attention to until just prior to writing this. It’s odd how the most simplistic message in the midst of a hectic day can catch you completely unaware. But there it was, the most well known verse in the entire Bible: John 3:16.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Now, I’m not going to break it down and try to extrapolate some profound point, or twist the words and meanings so that you feel the gravity of salvation and depravity more acutely. There’s no need. In fact, I find myself having to repent of the time I’ve spent using enticing or flowery words and illustrations of Man’s(my) wisdom to try and convince you to Jesus. The gospel and the Holy Spirit of God Almighty are infinitely more capable of doing so than I. The simplicity of Scripture is not something to be revealed by men as if by magic. Sure, I can share what I have learned about it, but I can’t convince of its truth, nor can I reveal to you what God meant by what He said in the Bible. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the Word of God that we may see the things which we are able to bear, to comprehend, and to apply in our lives.
John 3 verse 16 has an incredible message, but I don’t need to try and enhance it, or to make you see and feel what I do by reading the verse. But to think that God would give His Son to die for me is astounding! I wouldn’t die for me! If I was in God’s position, I don’t even think I love myself enough to die to save me. Maybe on selfish human impulse I would “do whatever it takes to survive”, but I can’t truly say I love myself enough to want to save my own life. But God does, and He did come to live, die, and save me. Wow!
I just read it and wonder how love like that could exist. Why would it be directed to me? And how can I ever deserve or repay it? Try as I may, I can’t answer one of those questions with anything satisfactory. All I can do is trust the nature of God and that He loves me. The only question remaining is: now what? God loves me, He died, I’m free and saved: now what? What am I doing now that I’m free? I’ve been a slave so long I don’t know how to live outside of a prison. So I build one for myself, not out of sin and chains, but of gods. God is good. In fact, He is so good I want more of Him… well, it doesn’t have to be Him, just something like Him. So I start treating everything like God and scattering around the love I’m filled with now that I am His child. And I build my prison of gods. A prison of pleasure and happiness where I bestow love on objects of worldy importance, forsaking the world beyond them which so desperately yearns for the same love.
Everything God-like becomes my source of happiness: church, churchy stuff, Christian music, Christian movies, Bible studies, hanging with church friends, church activities, church groups, church volunteer work… but sinners-, they’re not like church or God, so I don’t go around them anymore. You know, just in case their bad influences rub off on me.
We can just as easily get locked in a religious prison as we can a carnal and sinful prison. I’m all for going to church and the fellowship with believers! I’m all for church being a vocation for pastors and certain positions dedicated to helping the church be everything God ever meant it to be: a support to the community, a launching pad for ministers, a fellowship of believers, and an institution of doctrine and growth in the Word of God. But when church becomes our life as a member of the congregation, we lose sight of the purpose of the church and that of the Christian. The church is to enable the Christian in their ministry. The Christian is to minister. God didn’t save us to become members of a church, He saved us to become witnesses of His gospel… who are members of a church(hopefully). He loved the World, not just you and me, but everybody else out there too. What are we doing about it?
In exactly a week I’ll be on a plane headed to Uganda, Africa. I can’t help but begin to prepare my heart and mind to be a witness for Christ and a minister. I’d like to ask you to pray for me and my family along with the 17 other members of this mission team, that we would be open to the leading of the Spirit of God. And I promise I’ll pray for you too while I’m on the trip. I don’t want this to just be something I do, I want each one of my readers to become involved in ministry; to reach their world for Christ! You can make a difference! John 3:16 keeps ringing in my head. God so loved the world that He saved me… now what? Now Colorado. Soon Uganda. Next, wherever He plants my feet may I be willing to be His witness to the nations.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist