“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
From the time we are very young, we are inundated with great rescue stories. Boys often gravitate to the adventures of Spiderman, Superman, or the Fantastic Four. Meanwhile, girls might be enchanted by the tales of Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, or Cinderella. What could be more wonderful than being found and rescued by our prince? Whether male or female, it seems we sense deep in our hearts a need to be rescued. While the superhero stories and the fairy tales are wonderful to read and see on the screen, we know they are not real. So, what do we do with our true need to be seen and rescued?
John 3:16 speaks of the true hero of our story: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God saw our need before we even knew to cry out to him. He sent his Son to rescue us from the bondage of sin, death, and the evil forces of this world. Jesus came to Earth on the greatest rescue mission ever! Why then, do so many people think Christianity is about rules, regulations, and condemnation?
Love motivated the Father to send his Son. Love motivated Jesus to dwell among us and then die for us. Love motivated the Father and the Son to send us the Holy Spirit so that we could be assured of their presence and power in this world and the world to come. Jesus’ mission was to rescue his people from condemnation, not to condemn them. When we look to Jesus as our Savior, we become children of God and receive a marvelous inheritance. Not only that, but we receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ. As Paul would say, the old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christians stand secure in the forgiveness, acceptance, and love of the Lord. We will continue to sin and to struggle in this world, but that sin does not define us; Jesus defines us. In his letter to the Romans, Paul confirms that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1).
Why then do so many people perceive the Christian faith as that of judgement and condemnation? Jesus will bring judgement at his second coming; however, his first coming was about bringing reconciliation to all people. On the cross, Jesus forgave those who betrayed him, condemned him, and sentenced him to die. That does not sound like condemnation; that sounds like grace. The Lord longs for his children to live in that grace, to live as people who have been rescued and set free their bondages, and then to live as those who share this good news with others.
Reflect & Respond:
Do you realize that God sent his Son to rescue you? Are you living as one who has been saved, healed, and set free or are you still clinging to guilt, shame, and the condemnation of the world? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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