Monday, November 8, 2021

From John 3:16 to 1 John 3:16

This past week we had our DML Global Team Retreat.  We met daily through Zoom with about sixty of us from eleven countries and it was such a joy!  We could hear so clearly that the message of our commitment to bringing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth is deepening and growing in the hearts and minds of our DML leaders.

Pastor Nokoson from Cameroon led us in devotions on Wednesday and he started by telling us that it is time for us to move from John 3:16 to 1 John 3:16.  I don't remember hearing the tying of those passages together but it caught my ear.

John 3:16 is probably one of the most famous verses in Scripture, especially in evangelism.  It 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. 

The essence of the gospel in one verse!

But 1 John 3:16 takes us further, as we strive to become more like Him.  Some say that this is the critical second half of the gospel:

This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid His life down for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

These two texts show a journey of awakening that is critical and essential to the whole story.  We move from an adolescent faith to the maturity of love, which IS the fullness of Jesus Christ.  This changes our calling while on earth from simply waiting for heaven, to being the hands and feet of Jesus in every place and every space.

Helping people requires us to show up and respond.  Loving people goes so much deeper: being in relationship, listening, and building trust.  

But laying down your life for others?  A depth that is difficult to describe.  

Yet that is what we are called to do.  We can't rely evangelistic events to do this.  We can't do it from the church building.  We do it as we are "going" about our business.  We do it as we meet people, listen to them, learn from them, and share with them.  As we do our work with excellence, bringing about the flourishing of humanity, using the gifts and talents of a creative God, we help to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.  We are the picture of God's love.

In Genesis 3, three things were broken as a result of the fall:  our relationship with God, our relationship with each other, and our relationship with work and creation.  Many of the messages we hear from church are about our relationship with God and understanding Him better.  But 1 John 3:16 makes it urgent that we also learn how to take that relationship, mature it, and apply it to our relationships with others, with work, and creation.

One would think that it would naturally flow, but the lack of transformation in nations and societies that are predominantly Christian tells us that it does not.  We need teaching and preaching and practicing of how to live out this great gift on Monday, Tuesday, and so on.  We need to develop the muscle that can answer the question, "What does it mean to love people where we work - the dishonest person, the unmotivated person, the negative person?  And what does that look like?"  

2 Corinthians 5:14 says that Christ's love compels us - because we have been loved much, we too need to love much, even to the point of laying down our lives.  May God bless you this week as you live this out!