BY CLINT LOVEALL -- SPIRIT LAKE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
"It is easy for the world to become the church's enemy rather than the object of its compassion."
-- Dr. Craig Barnes
It's a shame that so often, the church has spoken loudly about what it is against, but rarely do people hear it speak of what it is for. The people of Christ do some amazing things in the world. Christians give generously of their time, their money, and their talent to help the hungry, the needy, and the oppressed. Unfortunately, however, most of what gets the world's attention is our angry response to things we disagree with. I don't think it's any secret that the "world" has more often felt judged by the church than loved by it.
"God so loved the world." Have you ever really thought about that simple, bold proclamation? Not God was angry at the world or God judged the world, or God warned the world ... God loved the world. So much that he gave His only Son. Pretty much any Christian with a halfway decent Sunday School teacher at some point knows that verse (John 3:16). But do you know the next one? "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
God loved the world so much that he acted on its behalf. And his action was not born of anger, or disappointment, or judgement, but love. God acted lovingly to the world by offering it Jesus.
I wonder if we have loved the world lately? Too often, I hear us complain. I hear us judge. I hear us make accusations and see us point fingers and watch us try to convince the world (and maybe ourselves) that the world isn't worth loving. But that's a lie. God loves the world, and so should we. To claim we love Jesus without loving those for whom he gave his life is shallow, and hollow, and discredits our witness.
Have you shown love to the world recently? Have you made a gift that helped someone in need? Have you helped feed the hungry? Have you volunteered time or done some random act of kindness to bless another person? Have you done a single thing to change any of the things you complain about, or have you just complained? Problem identifiers are easy to find, problem solvers are rare. Anyone can complain and judge, it takes the changed heart of a disciple to love.
As followers of Christ, have we loved the world? If so, how do we let the world know? How have we offered it Jesus? What have we done or given in Christ's name so the world will know the one who has loved it with his very life?
God loves the world... Do you?