Year B Lent 4 John 3 2012
Looking at the World through the Eyes of God
I can't think of a greater condemnation to be levied against a people than this: They loved darkness instead of light. I would never want that to be said of me. But that is the way God sees the world. You and I see the world as it is right now. Most of the people around us try and do the right thing and when we are wrong hopefully we apologize. So we tend to think well of most people. But look out on the passage of time.
The Ancient World of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Hellenism, Rome, Persia, India, and East Asia was filled with the ignorance of hundreds of thousands of gods, magic, rituals, superstitions, human sacrifice, conquests, sewage(refuse was mostly thrown into the streets for the rats and dogs), disease (priests attempted to foretell the course of a disease by examining the livers of sacrificed animals). And the list doesn't end there: ethnic bigotry, civil wars, persecutions, despots, tyrants, class rule, and the systematic murders of tens of thousands.
The Middle Ages of Persia, Constantinople, Islam, Britain, China, India, Genghis Khan and the Mongols, Timur and the Turks, Europe, African Empires and the Americas. All of them covered in the darkness of man's inhumanity to man: Revolutions, expansionism, Mohammad's Conquest and Christianity's Crusades, warlords, heretics, witchcraft, increased trade bringing death and plagues to millions, and the crowding in the cities spreading the misery all the more. And on top of this misery wars fought for every ridiculous reason known to man.
The Enlightenment and the Modern world also have fared no better. We too have loved the darkness instead of the light. Europe, Africa, Mid-East, India, and the Americas have all dipped their finger into the cesspool of sin: Guns, germs, slavery, the need for women's suffrage, massacres, socialism, resistance to democracy, religious fundamentalism's resistance to progress, Fascism, Communism, The Holocaust, the Ku Klux Klan, greed, the market crash, The Depression, world wars, The Bomb, terrorism, the crisis in Africa.
I can't tell you what a short list this is. And this says nothing of the millions of women and children who have suffered throughout the ages at the hands of ruthless men. There is no way to write that history because it is hidden from the pages of history.
Yes! Men have loved darkness rather than light. There is a morbid destructive tendency in all of us. We dabble in the diabolical. We revel in revenge. And we hate in our hearts. My, how we love to live in the shadows! What must God think of us?
Here is his verdict, as true today as it was when it was pronounced 2000 years ago: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light, because their deeds were evil. This is Jesus' description of mankind. And can any of us argue with him?
For a few moments let's look at the world through the eyes of God. What does he see? He sees that....
- There are those who acknowledge not the darkness.
- There are those who acknowledge the darkness.
- There are those who acknowledge their need for forgiveness.
The Simplex Faith of 3:16
If I were to say three numbers, "3:16," what would you say?
If there is one Bible verse both locked down and totally lapsed Christians might know, it is John 3:16.
Thank you, Tim Tebow.
John 3:16 is held up at half –time in sports arenas. It is flashed on cardboard placards on freeway off-ramps. Tim Tebow found a creative new place to assert John 3:16 when he scraped out the three numbers in the black-out smears he made on his cheekbones before every one of his college football games.
We all know John 3:16.
But let me try again. Who can tell me John 3:15? Or John 3:17? Or John 3:14? Or 3:18?
If you can, you are the exceptions that prove the rule. You are a minuscule minority. If you don't know, it is not because your faith is fainthearted. Not because your Sunday school failed you. Not because of any form of faithlessness. If you don't know what John 3:15 or John 3:17 say, it is because of a common disease that has affected many Christians. It is a malady perhaps best described as "versitis."
No, I didn't say "bursitis." I said "versitis."
Anyone remember "sword drills" in Sunday school? Or did you ever earn "jewels in your crown" in Awana classes? If so, then you have a good number of Bible verses committed to memory. Both "sword drills" and Awana prizes reward children for committing Bible verses to memory. But knowing individual Bible verses, as helpful, hopeful, and healing as they might be, does not mean that you know the Bible, the story of the scriptures. The whole story. The big story. The back story. Both the huge moments and the hidden asides. All of the components of God's story are necessary in order to comprehend the whole, unfolding drama of the divine words and work that are found in scripture...