For God So Loved the World
There are, of course, many things that we could attribute as God’s desires for us, but in today’s short devotional I am going to focus on two very obvious desires that God has for us.
The first desire is God’s desire to free us from the slavery of sin. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For he did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3: 16-17) The first stories in the Bible, sometimes called the Sin stories: The Fall of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, The Flood, The Tower of Babel, and so on, showed how sin entered the world and took in many forms. Each of us knows in the depths of our consciences how we are sorely tempted toward sin every day, and how difficult it is to avoid it. We are, indeed, slaves to many sins, small and large. We understand this privately, and we see it in the public domain on the evening news, or the newspaper headlines. Sometimes it seems overwhelming and we often feel alone. But, in faith, we know that Jesus came into the world to consquer sin and death, and to open the gates of Paradise to us once again. We know that desire too—unconditional love. His love encompasses all of mankind in general, and each and every one of us individually, with a warm and familiar particularity. We know that we are saved because of God’s desire to free us from the chains of our sins, all those things we think, say, and do, that separate us from His love.
The other desire God had and has for us is the desire that we all be one family in him. This too is rooted in his Love. We use the terms Father and Son with good reason. God’s love for us is familial. He is the Father we all desire and need. He is both perfectly just and perfectly merciful. He challenges us to accept the freedom that He breathed into us at our conception, and to live out of that freedom responsibly. He wants us to choose to love one another in the ways his Son, Jesus, showed us when he walked among us in the flesh. He wants us to love all of his children, just as we would love our own brothers and sisters. He wants us to be family here on earth, because heaven is a family home par excellence. He uses familial images throughout the scriptures, from the birth of Jesus in a manger, to the Wedding Feast at Cana, and the Last Supper for a reason. He is the One who created us all. Every human being on the earth is one of his children, whether they know it or not. He desires that, out of our Christian faith, we might come to know and to love one another, in his Spirit, as true brothers and sisters of Jesus, and true sons and daughters of One Father. The truth is that, if we did live in that familial way, the world would know that we are truly Christian, and many would want to be part of that family too.
The Church is like a fruit tree. It is known by its fruit. It is the nature of an apple tree to bear apples. It is the nature of God’s tree, the Church on earth, to bear the fruit of love to the world. It is the nature of each individual Christian to be this fruit of the Church in the world, to love as Jesus loved, even if it might lead to suffering and death. “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13) This is what family does. This is what God did. So, freed as we are from the slavery of sin, we are now called to be his one family here on earth, united in his name, enlivened by his Spirit. Amen.