WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, March 6, 2023 - GIVE IT TO ME STRAIGHT!
WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, MARCH 6, 2023
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 passage is John 3:16-18, where Jesus declares,
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 IT TO ME STRAIGHT!
The church of Jesus Christ is in the world for one reason above all else, to proclaim the person and work of Jesus for the salvation of all people as a gift of God’s grace. That’s why people ask me pretty regularly, “So, why is it so important to be in Washington, D.C.? Isn’t sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen the most important thing to do at this moment?” When they ask that question, they often quote John 3:16-18. Then they add something like, “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 respond, “Hey, that’s not answering the question!” But it is. 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, the call to repentance and the offer of grace. All of this is about Jesus. People might ask, “What would Jesus do?” Then they tend to focus on those times when Jesus is talking about personal relationships and how sacrificing and serving others as God in Christ serves us is the answer. Even then, we are to “speak the truth in love,” that is, God’s words of truth to those we love and care about (Ephesians 4:15). When questions arise about how things should BE in this world, Jesus doesn’t mince words then either. He tells us that we should honor marriage because God created human beings “male and female;” He then calls us to be faithful to one another in marriage and declares that breaking marriages apart is not God’s will (Matthew 19:4-6). He tells us that “Caesar” (e.g., public officials, law enforcement, etc.) has work that God wants done, but that God has a unique work to save the world in and through His Son (see Matthew 22:21). Straight talk. Our D.C. work advocates especially 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 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 (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. So, while Jesus didn’t come to “condemn” the world (John 3:17), there is condemnation in this world. Some of it is just, imposing necessary judgments to keep sin/sinners from getting totally out of hand. Some of it is unjust, when our rulers abuse their power and authority. The message of Jesus to all is the knowledge that you can ultimately bring all of this to His cross for God’s ultimate sentence of grace alone through the Savior Jesus who fulfilled the Law perfectly in your place, 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 is God’s straight truth 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, in His time and ways, fulfill all of His promises to all who believe!
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, but, even more so, receive the healing power of Your grace each day. And let the difficult issues that surround each of us be things we can bring to the foot of Your cross for our forgiveness, our comfort, and our courage to live each day in You for others. AMEN.
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