So, I got to preach last Sunday and the church is doing encounters with different Bible characters as they journey through Lent.
I got John 3:16 and Nicodemus as my encounter and was it an encounter.
Liberal Christians dodge this verse when it comes up, cause so many of us have been in the presence of it being used to define all of Christianity. It is not however the end all phrase we tend to see it as. When put into context it is part of a very complex answer to a question asked Christ.
“What are you doing here?”
To which we get a very complex answer, you should read John 3 to see this.
A complex answer not just one verse, not just verse 16.
We are told of a compassionate God trying to offer hope and a new way of life to people in pain. A God that cares so much that he sent his Son, though it would mean experiencing pain and death, to teach us something of a Spirit filled life.
So many time John3:16 is used to condemn the world. But the next verse says it’s not about that. This is why I struggle when Christians, some considered to be leaders, say that disasters happen to people cause God is punishing them.
As I watched a video of the tsunami in Japan I was scared, deeply saddened. Imagining someone losing their way of life, their home, or their very life. Most of all I ask the most logical question for a Christian, “Why God?”
To those that answer that God was carrying out vengeance I say, the God I know does not carry out vengeance. My God feels and knows human pain and suffers with all living things. I don’t have an answer to the above question and I hope I never do have a short or easy answer.
What I do know is that Nicodemus shows us we must question God and when get complex answers we do our best to interpret them. That god cares for us and our world, I know. It is through God’s love we are called to share compassion with the world as part of God’s people and we are not here to condemn it.