I was recently asked to write a few words based on a specific Bible passage as part of a shared blog during Lent. For those unfamiliar with Lent, it is the 40 day period leading up to Good Friday and Easter. It has traditionally been considered part of the Catholic tradition, and has, unfortunately, been ignored by most non-Catholic followers of Jesus. But for some, it has become a meaningful time of meditating on Jesus’ journey to the cross, and it is in that light that I now approach this season.
With that explanation, here is my contribution. If you would like to continue to read through the daily blogs written by the folks who are a part of the Mosaic Edinburgh community, here is the link: http://journey-mosaic.blogspot.co.uk/
New Living Translation (NLT)
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[a]”
- 3:21 Or can see God at work in what he is doing.
How amazingly blessed are we?!! “There is NO JUDGMENT against anyone who BELIEVES in Him.”
What a beautifully simple plan God has put into place for us: Believe and escape judgment. Believe and have eternal life.
Believe in the One who left heaven for us. Believe in His humanity. Believe in His divinity. Believe in His sacrifice in our place. Believe that He died. Believe that He conquered death, because He rose from the dead. Believe that He is seated at the right-hand of the Father in heaven. Believe that He intercedes for us. Believe that we get to be with Him forever. And believe that love for us was the motivation for it all: this wonderfully simple plan of God.
Sometimes it seems that so little is required of us in this plan of God’s. Until we realise that it requires everything from us.
If we believe, we give up everything to Him and for Him, because He gave up everything for us.
We give up our unbelief, because if we hold on to that, as these verses tell us, we’ll be judged, and who would want that when we can escape judgment if we will only believe?
We give up living in darkness and holding onto our evil deeds, because His light has come, so we no longer live in darkness. Our evil deeds are gone, because of His sacrifice in our place, so we don’t have any fear that they’ll be exposed. We have given up hopelessness, fear, dread, and all those other slimy creatures that lurk in the darkness, because we now live in His light.
There are things that are more difficult for us to give up, even though we know that Jesus sacrificed those things as well. Dignity might be one of them. Rights and entitlement might be others. We know that Jesus gave up His rights. He could have held on to the entitlement due to the King of Heaven’s Armies (one of His names in the book of Psalms), but He didn’t. Even so, we sometimes struggle to surrender those things.
There’s no judgment for us now, which means that we also give up judgment. How can we judge others, when we know we will not be judged. That’s another of the things Jesus gave up that we struggle to let go of.
What about control? He surrendered His control, evidenced in the prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, and yet we definitely struggle to give up our control. Until of course we come to the realisation that it’s only an illusion any way, and we’re not really in control at all.
How about self-determination? But Jesus gave His life away. He could have had life goals that didn’t include being led like a lamb to the slaughter. He could have had ambitions for Himself. He chose, instead, to make winning us His ambition.
What about ‘stuff’? This world offers a lot of good ‘stuff.’ When it was offered to Him, He turned it down, even all the kingdoms of the world. Few of us will ever have to give up anything like the wealth and power that Jesus was offered, but rejected.
Even when we struggle to give up some of these things, Jesus doesn’t judge us. These verses of scripture assure us that He didn’t come to judge us. “God sent His son into the world not to judge the world…” and again, “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”
In the face of such overwhelming, sacrificial, merciful love, is there really anything we would rather hold on to?