“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
One of the most frequently quoted bible verses is probably John 3:16. It’s probably also the most memorized verse in the bible. It’s certainly important, but often people will stop at the end of the verse and completely miss the verse following, which is equally important. That is our verse today, John 3:17.
Verse 16 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.” It stands alone in it’s message. Jesus Christ came to this earth to give all who believe in him eternal life, because God loves us and wants us to be united with him. However, it is made all the more impactful followed by verse 17. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
For so many Christians, the entirety of their religion has become about rule following. It’s not about salvation or grace or forgiveness, but about following a certain set of rules and condemning those who fail to do so – not unlike the Pharisees. We can see it plainly in the hardline “Christians” who bring hateful signs to large events declaring God’s hate and wrath on them.
The truth is that Christ did not come to condemn anyone. He certainly did not come so that we could condemn anyone. He came to save. And as those who have been saved, we are now meant to spread that saving grace to all people, especially the “worst” of sinners. Our message to the world is not their doom or destruction. Our message to the world is hope and salvation.
Behavior change does not lead to heaven. The saving and transforming power of the grace of Jesus leads to heaven. Behavior change is a side effect.
If you fall into the temptation of condemnation and judgement on others, especially those outside of Christ who don’t know the gospel, remember that Christ did not come to condemn but to save, and he relies on you who have hear the gospel and know the saving truth to share it with the world, not to condemn it.
Thank you for loving us so much that you would send your Son to die on our behalf. Help us never to be haughty because we are “good people” or “good Christians,” but always help us to be humble, compassionate, and filled with grace. Help us not to condemn, but share your saving love with the world.
In Jesus’ Name,