Thank you to all of you who commented about the importance of John 3:17 in your own life. Just to be sure, I want to make clear I wasn’t really advocating plastering John 3:17 signs all over the neighborhood. I agree with Bob about the limited effectiveness of spreading around a scripture reference. It was more of a metaphor for how important it is to include 3:17 if we’re going to talk about verse 3:16. It’s more about making it more important in our own minds and about acting on it with others, more than anything. If Jesus didn’t come to judge the world, why should we? Jesus is the one here who is making it clear why He came. He came to save, not to condemn. The point is us. What do we do with this truth?
I‘m sure we engage in condemning the world because of guilt over our own sin and the human tendency to want to make other people’s sins worse than our own. But this is exactly why we do not want to judge the world, as Jesus said, “Lest we be judged.” (Matthew 7:1) If you don’t want the finger pointed at you, don’t point yours at anyone else. It’s a law of the kingdom. It’s the way the kingdom of God works on earth. Jesus came to save. That’s the Jesus you want.
To be sure, judgment is coming at the end of the world, but that is not now. Now is the day of salvation. Now is when we focus on Christ’s love, His atonement for our sins and His forgiveness for all who come to Him repenting of their own sin, not anyone else’s.
Steve Garber pointed out in last week’s BlogTalkRadio interview that the great British pastor/theologian, John Stott, used to question often, “Why blame the world for being the world?” Indeed. Why get upset with sinners for sinning? What do you expect, especially knowing yourself? The only sin we need to ever be talking about is our own. Whenever you catch yourself pointing your finger, use that as a reminder to take a hard look at yourself. This is really an important step because this is what makes us respond to the grace of God, and that sets us up to turn that grace outward to others.
Grace is always a tremendously personal, intimate thing. It’s not just grace you pull down from the sky and hand to someone; it is grace that meets me in my sin that I turn outward to others. The grace we talk about here at the Catch is grace we have come to experience because we are such sinners in need of it. The grace we so famously turn outward is grace that gives us an intimate, personal experience with a forgiving Lord. This is why John 3:17 is so important.
Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that is greater than all my sin
Julia H. Johnston