Loving God, Loving the World

March 17, 2017
Creation - Day 2, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=46171 [retrieved March 17, 2017].

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“Loving God, Loving the World”
by Rev. Chase Peeples
John 3:1-17
March 3, 2017, Second Sunday in Lent

The verse John 3:16 is commonly used by Christians as justification for the belief that each individual person must “accept Jesus Christ as his/her Lord and Savior” because of the words “whosever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  This emphasis upon individual choice and individual salvation often comes at the cost of missing out on the communal dimensions of this verse and the following one, John 3:17: which declare “God so loved the world” and “God did not send the son into the world to condemn the world but to save it.”  Furthermore the word translated into English as “believe” is commonly taken to mean belief in a set of intellectual propositions, rather than as the Greek word actually means which is “trust.”

The net result of understanding God’s salvation as only for certain individuals who hold a certain set of beliefs is the division of the world into an “us” and a “them,” or perhaps an “us” and many, many “them” plural.  Seen this way Christianity becomes a cultural marker for certain people, often only people with a certain Western European heritage and sometimes only those who have white skin.  This plays out in today’s politics where White Nationalism has seen a resurgence and where racism and xenophobia have become policy.

Any form of Christianity that ignores or downplays God’s love for each and every person in existence whatever her or his nationality, gender, income, sexual orientation, etc. is a false Christianity.

Sources used:

If Grace is True: Why God Will Save Every Person, by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland, HarperOne, 2003.

Commentary on John 3:1-17” by Lance Pope at workingpreacher.org

Related quotation:

“God doesn’t go by the kind of arithmetic that you and I go by. God has never learned to deal in fractions. God didn’t get that far in school. I think God’s like my father who had ten children, and many a time I thought, “Well, my goodness, with a family this big, Daddy can’t love me very much. I can only claim one tenth of his love.” But my father loved me with all of his love. It’s just that way with love. There is no fraction in it. You can’t break it up into pieces. And God wants the whole human race. God just can’t deal in fractions.

“And so Jesus is saying to these people who were griping and mumbling and grumbling about the fact that he was taking in all kinds of people, bums and drunks and the poor folks and everybody, he was saying, ‘Well, I just can’t help it. God just has a sentimental attachment for his people. And, whether you like it or not, God loves ’em, and it does seem to me that if they’re precious in God’s sight, they ought to be precious in yours, too.’”

–Clarence Jordan Cotton Patch Parables of Liberation

Bible References

  • John 3:1 - 17