John 3:16 expresses an overwhelming love: “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.” The
sheer gift of grace through this miraculous sacrifice is our eternal
life. Yet, the line that follows is just as important and just as
powerful. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to
condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved
We can more accurately translate the word world in verses
16 and 17 as “cosmos,” “created order,” or “system of reality.”
God’s love is an inclusive and accepting love, unconditional and
universal. God so loves the whole world and everyone in it that
God sent Jesus so all might be saved.
Do some reject this gift? Certainly. Do some people remain
ignorant of this great love? Without doubt. But we do not decide
who receives this love and who does not. God is love. The very
nature of God is grace. Being a Christian doesn’t make us better
than anyone else, just more fortunate and blessed. And we are
blessed to be a blessing. We have received this great love. We
have been touched by this amazing grace. We who know God
and have been transformed by God’s Spirit are charged with
sharing this good news, this gospel, with everyone we meet.
Many aspects of life are uncertain. In this life we may lose
or squander our possessions or virtues, and we may have items
taken from us. But the one certainty, the one thing we can count
on never to lose, is the love of God in Jesus Christ.
Gracious God, teach me to love as you love. Help me to sacrifice for the good of others and to be prepared to share your love and grace with the people I meet. Empower me by your Spirit to bless others as I have been so richly blessed by you. Amen.
Faith in God and deliverance by God are themes that dominate these scriptures. Abraham casts aside all baser loyalties and in daring fashion entrusts life and well- being to God’s care. Abraham follows God’s initiatives into new realms of loyalty and purpose. Paul reminds us that while Abraham models good works, his righteousness results from his faith. Nicodemus models an Abraham who has yet to leave Ur of the Chaldees. Nicodemus’s comprehension of God’s initiatives is shallow and sterile. The psalm for this day greets with joy God’s invitation to renewal.
• Read Genesis 12:1-4a. How is God calling you to leave behind the familiar for some new opportunity?
• Read Psalm 121. What aspect of this psalm draws your attention? What offers you comfort and hope? To whom do you turn for help?
• Read Romans 4:1-5, 13-17. What distinction do you draw between your doing great things for God and God’s doing great things through you?
• Read John 3:1-17. What experience does the phrase born again bring to your mind? Does it foster positive notions? In what ways do you evidence your baptism in the Spirit?
Respond by posting a prayer.