“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.” John 3:16
I hear this verse a lot, God. And as you and I have journeyed together, I find its use by my community more and more offensive.
The “fact” of this belief. The “evidence” of this fact. It’s like I believe – and then get hit with guilt as I immediately morph into a Christian and become part of the community.
I see guilt and greed required of each new follower/Christian. I see the transferred obligation of duty, sacrifice, burden – an obligation of investment and transaction – leading to my (yet more) transaction and guilt – which has now become the gold standard for my eternal future.
It’s like we turn this “grace freely given” into my entitlement for my sacrifice – it’s like my sacrifice becomes a much greater sacrifice than Yours – so that (weirdly) You end up owing me for my sacrifice.
But mainly – dearest God – how can I love you if my relationship is of guilt – a debt I can never repay – a long list of expectations from my community – a list I must fulfil in order to remain a member? Like – just how do I love you with all that crap?
Which leads me to another crap ponder:
If You “loved the world” – now a fact (as we have made this verse) that has to mean everyone and everything in this world? Like as in how You, God Jesus, shredded their “naughty list” and showed them how.
So just why has my community over-ruled You? Why does my community tell me who I can invite and who I must push away? How does that and this verse work (because I really do believe in You).
Is that what you mean – this new list – when You “so loved the world”?
No, Paul – it isn’t.