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Lent reflection Cover Image

The Son of God, John 3:16-21

15th Mar 2019

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.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. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”  (NRSV)

Have you ever gone on holiday leaving your house unprotected and uncared for and generally “at risk”? It’s not a great feeling is it, so most of us will make some arrangements with the neighbours, maybe leaving keys and alarm code and asking them to put the papers through the door. That makes us feel better.

What if your neighbour was Christ? But I doubt I would then rest easy on holiday. What if I got home to find it had been sold and given to the poor, or it was full of the homeless or local prostitutes. What if the heating had been on all day to care for the sick, and I had to cough up double bills? My neighbour might get a piece of my mind.

My point is that there are two versions of Christ in our world view: the first in decent honest day-to-day neighbourly routine, living `well`; the other is to go the distance, no longer caring for self but striving with all available energy and desire to fix/save broken worlds as we find them. These two views seem to be held at either end of outstretched arms, rarely meeting. We should know in our hearts what is right in every situation, but acting on it is tougher than ponderous talk. We don’t want to be reviled and crucified for good living, but rather play it safe: at least then we get to survive decently. God surely wants that much.

However God sent more than his son into the world. He also sent you and me in order that we can realise a day when none will perish and we live side by side in everlasting life. It’s no good saying it’s everyone else’s fault. You could claim that we can’t change heartless governmental thuggery or Russian election interferences, and maybe you can’t, but some can. There are people whom God send specifically to change those things.

Today we could live the big life: the God-filled-every-cell-vibrating-with-goodness life if we wanted to. We shouldn’t be frightened if it’s the Father living within that does the work. It is in our gift: the choice is just a binary yes or no – shall I live a God-breathed-every-atom-full life, or shall I live out my unchallenged weaknesses, tiredness, problems and perceptions. No decision just leads to a watered down, variable speed blessing. Or as v18 says “Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already…. “

So I reckon that God's love caused each of us to be here in the first place to ensure that no one should perish and that we all are joint heirs to eternal life. As v21 says “…those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

You know you can make a start on this and maybe you can feel God nudge you. All things are possible.

Martin Barrett, St John's staff