Give It To Me Straight! - Monday, March 9, 2020
WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2020
Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are John 3:16-18, where Jesus says,
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
GIVE TO ME STRAIGHT!
People ask me pretty regularly, “Why is it so important to be in Washington D.C.? Isn’t the most important thing at the moment to be engaged in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen?” When they ask that question, they often quote John 3:16-18. Then they assert something like this: “It’s all about Jesus, Dr. Seltz. So why tarry in D.C. defending things like religious liberty, the sanctity of life, the institution of marriage, and educational freedom?” My answer is short and to the point, “It’s all about Jesus.” You might respond, “Hey, that’s not answering the question!” But it is. The Bible never sidesteps hard questions. Throughout the Bible, God sets us straight. He offers His word to us straight. He comes straight at us with words of Law and Gospel, the call to repentance, and His offer of grace. All of this is about Jesus.
Have you heard people ask, “What would Jesus do?” Their answers tend to focus on those times when Jesus is calling us to sacrifice and serve others in our personal relationships, just as God in Christ serves us. Yet, even then, we are to “speak the truth (God’s words of truth) in love” to those whom care about (see Ephesians 4:15).
When questions arise about how things should be in this world, Jesus doesn’t mince words. For example, He tells us that we should honor marriage because God created human beings male and female, and unites them in that sacred bond; He tells us to be faithful to one another in marriage and that breaking marriages apart is not God’s will (Matthew 19:4-6). He tells us that “Caesar” has work that God wants done (e.g., public officials, law enforcement, etc.; see Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7), but that God has accomplished a unique work to save the world in and through His Son (John 3:16-18). Now that’s straight talk!
Our work in D.C. advocates for God’s ordering of the world so that we can talk about how God saves people who are broken and disordered like us. When we assert how God orders the world to preserve it, it is always in hope that we can also proclaim that God alone saves the world in and through His Son, Jesus. It’s a salt and light type of thing (see Matthew 5:13-16). It’s a temporal and eternal type of thing. It’s Jesus coming to fulfill all that the law demands (Matthew 5:17) so that He might offer salvation to the world as God’s free gift of grace.
While Jesus here says he did not come to “condemn” the world, there is condemnation in this world. Some of it includes just and necessary judgments to keep sin/sinners from getting totally out of hand to the detriment of others. Other times earthly condemnations seem unjust, especially when our rulers abuse their power and authority. The message of Jesus in the face of all of that brings the knowledge that you can ultimately leave all of this at His cross and receive God’s ultimate gift of grace alone through the Savior Jesus. He alone fulfilled the Law perfectly in your place, died an unjust death on the cross in your place, and offers you His eternal, resurrection life as a gift by grace alone through faith. John 3:16 is God’s truth straight and that truth helps us face a sinful, broken world that always seems to want to spin out of control. It helps us when our own sins and guilt overwhelm. It centers us when unjust things happen to us in this world. And, in all things, it points us to a Savior who has done all things well for us and who will fulfill His promises to all who believe when it matters most!
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give us courage and strength to trust all of what You say so that we might know the destructive power of sin and the healing power of your grace each day. And let the issues that surround each one of us be things which we can bring to the foot of Your cross for our own forgiveness and comfort. Then grant us courage to live each day in You for others. AMEN.
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