Monday, September 17, 2012

Condemning the World

My technologically resistant wife has suddenly found a level of expertise since she got an Apple computer earlier this year. After we both installed Kindle Reader on our computers, she discovered that a lot of free books are available online. She began to scan various sites for free books, and she now receives regular emails listing a wide variety of books available for downloading without cost. She looks carefully at the description of the book; and if it looks interesting, she downloads it. Since we share our Kindle files, I now have access to a lot of books that I probably would not have looked at otherwise. I’ve ended up reading a wide variety of books, and many of them have been pretty good reads.

Right now I am reading a book by J. J. Hebert titled Unconventional (Mindstir Media USA). The book features a high school graduate, James, who works as a janitor in a school but who has a special gift for writing. He meets an upper-class Christian woman, Leigh; and they fall in love in spite of the objections of her parents. Her hyper-Christian parents make a quick judgment that he is far less than what their daughter deserves. They openly abhor him, and they do all they can to protect their daughter from making a monumental mistake. I’m at the point in the book where Leigh is sympathetically sharing the plan of salvation with James. I was stopped in my tracks when she testified, “The Book of John says this: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.’”

The “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world” took on a new meaning for me when I saw that statement in the context of the condemnation that the outsider James was receiving from Leigh’s parents. I suddenly was reminded that too much of our Christian witness is directed toward condemning the world, and too little of it is directed toward so loving the world that we are willing to sacrifice our very lives to show love rather than condemnation. I have read that “God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world” numerous times, but I never had thought of that statement in the context of the condemnation we subtly and sometimes not so subtly direct toward “the world” and the worldly.

We sometimes adopt the stance of “love the sinner, but hate the sin,” but even that places hate in parallel with love; and the sinner cannot see love in the condemnation of who the sinner is and what the sinner does. We need to rediscover that “the world through him might be saved” is most clearly seen in sacrificial love rather than in condemning judgment. Condemnation comes at the end when lack of faith in a loving God is the focus, not the sins that all us have committed. Our condemning attitudes may stand in the way of sinners discovering the compassing love revealed in Christ.

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