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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Choosing Matters

Reading from John's Gospel for Morning Prayer. Today was John 3:16-21. In some ways I find John 3:17 more interesting, "For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn (krino) the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

The Greek word "krino" means many things, among them "to judge." It appears 123 times (in 99 verses) of the New Testament. Paul likes to use it (Romans 14x, 1 Corinthians 15x) and it is in Acts (21x) the most because of all the narrative on Paul's arrests.

I was surprised that Mark never uses the word, while Matthew (3x) and Luke (5x) use it a combined total of eight. John almost doubles that with fourteen uses. This gives you an insight into the reality of the author's vocabulary.

One challenge with the biblical writings is the lack of punctuation. There are no parentheses, commas, or dashes to set off ideas. There are no quotation marks to indicate the speaker. In the Fourth Gospel this means that at times it is hard to know who is speaking. Is it Jesus talking about Himself in the third person or is the author talking about Jesus? Perhaps this question is a modern one, in ancient times such a concern did not exist, even so, some of the unevenness in reading may be attributable to the author's commentary. (It is still Scripture either way)

The fundamental issue in John 3:17 is God's intent. His goal is salvation, rescue, redemption. Those who do not believe in Jesus perish, unfortunately. Faith, as I have tried to illustrate the last few days, is not merely a thought or feeling. It includes behavioral response. [Today in Hebrews 4:1-10 that was again presented: For Good News came to us just as to them (Israel); but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it did not meet with faith in the hearers. For we who have believed enter that rest...Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the Good News failed to enter because of disobedience... Once more the parallel of faith//obedience.]

Jesus provides the way (trusting relationship, obedient discipleship) to life, that is God's offer. Yet, because "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil"  we find that many walk away from God's offer.

Our gift is potentially life, but we can choose to walk away and reject the cure. In Lent, we are called to those disciplines and practices which allow us to redirect our life to Christ. God's desire is that we embrace His offer; Jesus waits. Each must make he changes needed so God's saving work can be effective in our lives.

In prayerful reflection on John 3:17 I daresay we can understand the goodness and mercy of God, and also come to see that His offer (Gospel) can be refused. Busy and distracted lives are no less deadly than outright sin and evil. In a sense, the greater tragedy is to miss boat doing "good" things; because the reason you miss the boat pales before the horror of seeing it sail off into the horizon and know the Captain mourns at your absence...  

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