Not To Condemn

”For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17, ESV).

This is a fairly well-known verse, and it comes right on the heels of what is probably the best-known, and most-memorized, verse in the Bible. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV).

The little word “for” in John 3:17 tells us that it is there to “explain” what came before. God wanted us to know that the reason Jesus was sent was to save a world of people who had absolutely know way of earning their forgiveness and salvation.

That’s good news! And who doesn’t like good news?

I’d like to look at this verse a little bit differently today, though. Rather than focusing exclusively on Christ’s sacrifice and its purpose, I’d like to consider that, as the Body of Christ—the Church—we are called to exemplify John 3:17. What do I mean by that?

For starters, if Jesus didn’t come to condemn, maybe we need to evaluate our estimation of, and response to, the people with whom we come in contact with. Maybe, if we…if I saw others first as someone for whom Christ died, or if we looked less at the personality, the cleanliness, the “value” to society, we would be less likely to condemn. Maybe we would cease to condemn and deepen our prayer life.

I can only speak for myself, but I am way too guilty of passing judgment on others. And when I am not passing judgment, I am ignoring. For years I used my introverted nature as an excuse to avoid people. But I am learning more and more that my avoidance of people was actually an avoidance of God. Ouch!

If Jesus came into the world for people, then I need to be less about me and more about people.

We are the hands and feet of Jesus. We are responsible for this generation of souls. Not just the likable souls, not just the upwardly-mobile souls, not just the souls who have something to offer us. Jesus loved the unlovely. He hung out with the outcast, those rejected by society. In His own words, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17 ESV).

As we go about our business this weekend, let’s try to be mindful of our judgments, and remember why Jesus came.

Blessings on your weekend!

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