Section Three: The Lifestyle Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic One: Having A Servant’s Heart.
Our reading for today: John 3: 16 (MsgB)
This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
As men and women who love and serve Jesus of Nazareth; disciples of Christ, it’s vitally important to both understand and embrace the goal of the One who is sending us out. Last time we looked at the unique call of God on the life of one godly man named Isaiah, who lived eight centuries before the birth of Christ. When Isaiah responded to the Lord of the Universe, telling the Divine… “Here I am, send me,” it was obvious that this servant of God spent the remainder of his days laying aside personal agendas while aligning himself with the specific assignments God was giving him to do.
In truth, as followers of Jesus, we have very little wiggle room to make up our God-assignments as we go. As a matter of fact, many “leaders” in the church today often model a very mixed message by saying one thing about being faithful to Jesus, but then straying from the basic commission of Christ to “go and serve,” inventing other “missions” that, quite honestly, reflect more of our fleshly goals than the heart of The Master.
That’s why we, as servants of the Living God, must go back to the basics and remind ourselves why God has started this whole “sending” process in the first place. And one of the best places to begin such a pursuit is to turn our Bibles to, quite possibly, the most recognized passage in the entire Scriptures.
Whether it be a crowd shot at the NFL’s Super Bowl, the inauguration of the President of the United States, or the excitement of the World Olympics, you can always be confident that at some point during the proceedings, the TV cameras will catch a person or two holding up decorative signage that reads…
John 3: 16
These colorful placards usually include, in fine print of course, the King James version of that biblical text: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Now don’t get me wrong. The fact that God “so loved the world” is, indeed, a wonderful evangelistic message to be presented to all of us sinners in this lost and dying world; but sadly too many Christians are very zealous in also emphasizing this add-on message as well…
“Unless you dirty, rotten sinners receive my Jesus as Lord and Savior, you’re gonna burn in hell!”
Have a nice day!
Which brings me now to the very important point of understanding the context of John 3: 16. As I see it, rather than just cherry-picking this one line from John’s Gospel and building a theology and methodology for world evangelism around it, let’s read this text together one more time, but with this reading, let’s add verses 17 and 18…
This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in Him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust Him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to Him. John 3: 16-18 (MsgB)
Do you notice how verses 17 and 18 give us a lot more detail as we attempt to define this one verse we’ve been quoting for so many years? Note how verse 17 (see below) especially seems to address all of us well-meaning Christians who feel it our God-assignment to go, pointing out to all those dirty, rotten sinners how very dirty and rotten their lives have become!
God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. John 3: 17 (MsgB)
Gosh, I wish all of those zealous Christians who are out there today pointing accusing fingers, telling folks how bad they are, would pay as much attention to John 3: 17 as they do John 3:16. Don’t you?
Now, you might be saying, “Boller, verse 18 does say that those outside of Christ are still “under a death sentence.” And yes, you are right…John’s Gospel does state that. But let’s do this. How about as we go out in Christ’s name, we use the same “good news” tactics of faith, hope, and love to tenderize hardened hearts that the Master used? How about rather than going out with an accusing finger, we go to work alongside God as he works to “put the world right again?”
I’ve often found in this life that true Christian disciples, those who choose to defer to and prefer the commission of Jesus over and above our own agendas, do much better bringing true conversion to sinners by loving “the hell” out of them, rather than pointing the finger of death.
So what’s in your John 3:16 today?
My prayer: Jesus, as I read John’s very-well-known gospel text, it’s crystal clear that my job in serving you is to not point an accusing finger at people, but come alongside God’s rescue mission in putting the world right again. It’s Your sacrificial work on the Cross that paid for our sins, buying our ticket out of hell. Holy Spirit, indwell and empower me to go now in Your name and in Your love. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: If true Christ-centered servanthood is all about loving “the hell” out of others, what practical steps can I take today to be in agreement with that commission and call? Am I guilty of pointing an accusing finger at others, and if so, what needs to change in my heart so that I better reflect the entire text of John 3: 16-18?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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