WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, April 4, 2022 - WE NEED STRAIGHT TALK FOR TIMES LIKE THESE!
WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, APRIL 04, 2022
Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on 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.
WE NEED STRAIGHT TALK FOR TIMES LIKE THESE!
While reflecting on the current state of our world, popular, award-winning actor Denzel Washington told a reporter, “If you don’t read the paper, you are ill-informed. If you do read the paper, you are misinformed. Your job is to tell the truth.” In times like these, we need straight talk about what is true and how it applies to our lives, even when it calls us to account. That’s why John 3:16-18 is a good passage to reflect upon as we close the Lenten season and embark on Holy Week. It contains the most direct straight talk in the Bible. It talks about the human predicament --- sin and condemnation. It talks about God’s solution --- Christ’s saving work for us, and the power of faith in Him for life now and forever.
People often ask me, “Why is it so important to be in Washington, D.C.? Isn’t the most important thing at the moment to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with anyone who will listen?” When they ask questions like those, they often quote John 3:16. They say, “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, “You’re right. It’s all about Jesus.”
You might reply that I’m not answering the question. But I am. More importantly, the Bible never sidesteps hard questions. Throughout the Bible, God sets us straight, offers His Word to us straight, and comes straight at us with words of Law and Gospel. They call all to repentance and offer grace to all on God’s terms through faith in Christ. All of this is about Jesus!
When people ask, “What would Jesus do?” they tend to focus on those times when Jesus is talking about personal relationships, about us sacrificing and serving others as Christ served us. That is a proper answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?” But, even then, it’s vital to realize that such a loving spirit is also committed to “speak the truth in love” to those we care about (Ephesians 4:15).
When questions arise about how things should be in this world, Jesus doesn’t mince words there either. He tells us that we should honor marriage because God created human beings “male and female” (Matthew 19:4). He tells us to be faithful to one another in marriage and that breaking marriages apart is not God’s will (Matthew 19:6). He tells us that “Caesar,” representing public officials, law enforcement, and other earthly authorities, has work that God wants done and we ought to support them in that (see Matthew 22:17-21; Romans 13:1-7).
But, as our reading makes clear, God also works in a unique way to save the world in and through His Son. Our work in D.C. speaks to God’s ordering of the world so that we can talk about how God saves people who are broken and disordered like us. That’s straight talk. When we proclaim that God orders the world to preserve it, that is always in service to proclaiming that God uniquely saves the world in and through His Son Jesus. It’s a salt and light type of thing (Matthew 5:13-16). It’s a temporal and eternal 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.
So, while Jesus didn’t come to “condemn” the world (John 3:17), there is condemnation in this world. Some of it imposes just and necessary judgments in order to keep sin and sinners from getting totally out of hand (Romans 13:1-7). Some of it is unjust, when rulers abuse their power and authority. The message of Jesus declares that you can ultimately bring all of this to His cross for God’s ultimate sentence of forgiveness and reconciliation for you. That’s because the Savior Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly for you, died your just death on the cross in your place, and offers you His eternal, resurrection life as a gift by grace alone through faith. John 3:16-18 proclaims God’s straight truth, and that truth helps us face a sinful, broken world that always seems to be on the verge of spinning 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 all of His promises to all those 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 recognize the destructive power of sin, and also receive the healing power of Your grace each day. Help us to trust in Your straight talk, Your Law and, more importantly, Your Gospel for our salvation in these troubled times. AMEN.
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