“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” That’s John 3:16, the most famous verse in the Bible. Even non-believers know it, thanks to it being on display everywhere, although they may not understand it. The question is: do we understand it? In keeping with the pattern of recent reflections, I would like us to examine if we do, because this is one verse (along with the one that follows it) that actually summarizes our faith. If we say we are Christian, then it is vital we know what these verses mean.
And know them well enough to be able to explain them to others. So, for something different today, let me give you a quiz. Do it with a friend to make it more interesting. Question: Why does God love the world so much, given what a miserable place it is, filled with all kinds of unsavory characters, including us! Church-going we might be; Christ-like we might not. So, in a universe of a billion galaxies each with a trillion planets and stars, why does Earth matter to him so much? It is not even a speck in the universe. And why do we?
Then, Jesus says that everyone who believes in the Son may not perish. Question: Who is the Son? Ok, you know the answer to that one; it is Jesus, so next Question. Why do we need to believe in Jesus not to perish? And WHAT do we need to believe? That Jesus is God’s only Son? Or is there more we need to believe? How does believing stop us from perishing? And why are we perishing, anyway? To perish means to die, especially in an unpleasant way. But doesn’t everybody perish?
How are you doing so far? Okay. Next question: Jesus says we will have eternal life. What does that mean? When does it begin? Where will we live this eternal life? Is it going to be different from this life we are leading now? If yes, how? Now all this is Christianity 101. They are really the most basic questions about the faith. See how many of these questions you can answer to a degree that truly satisfies you. Which means you get to the point where you understand it. Give it some serious thought, and when you are done, you might wanna compare your answers with those I provided in an earlier reflection (https://youtu.be/uhfTFhSpINU).
How did you fare? If you didn’t fare too well, don’t feel bad. Sometimes the realization that we know so little about our faith might spur us on to learn more, and thus deepen our relationship with God. But regardless of how we fare, I hope we can all get to such a deep understanding of our faith, that we are able to explain it to others. Because, you see, if those who believe in him won’t perish, then what happens to those who don’t believe?
And what responsibility do we have towards them? Of all the questions we asked today, this question is perhaps the most important.