John 3: 16 – 17
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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
A minister of my acquaintance always used to mis-quote John 3:16 as “And God so loved the World he sent his only son and not another Church committee …”
It always used to be the case that when watching any of the three American golf majors there would be someone, normally at the 17 or 18 tee, wearing a T Shirt bearing the legend John 3:16. I have often wondered presuming that most committed Christians would probably recognise the verse, if any nonbelievers actually took the trouble to look it up and if so did it make any difference to their world view? I suppose though that is the evangelist’s quandary, they never know if when or where the seeds they sow take root in someone’s heart.
An Elder I used to know once told me of how he came to faith. He had attended Sunday school then Bible Class from being a toddler until he was 14. His parents then said it was up to him whether he wanted to come to Church or not. He considered the question carefully for all of five possibly seven seconds before deciding No more Church. A decision that many would find unsurprising.
Over the next thirty odd years he rarely attended Church apart from weddings Christening and funerals. He was married in Church and all three of his children were Baptised he also made sure they attended Sunday School, and at age 14 gave them the same choice his parents had given him, with, it must be admitted, very similar results!
So it was that in his late forties he found himself at three in the morning sitting in a hospital corridor with his wife and son in law. His daughter who was eight and a half months pregnant had been admitted a couple of hours beforehand with acute appendicitis, she was now being operated on in the theatre at the end of the corridor. The three sat in silence and my friend looked at the walls desperately wanting to pray but not knowing how, when suddenly out of nowhere he dragged up from the dark recesses of his memory a prayer he had learned at Sunday School. That led on to other prayers as he silently poured out his heart to God begging that his daughter (and grandchild) come through this perilous night.
Naturally they both did or he would not have had a tale to tell me!
But from that he started attending services regularly studied his Bible and prayed often, eventually becoming an Elder, and an excellent one he was too.
I have no doubt that in his long ago childhood a Sunday School teacher had gone home thinking “Well they learned to recite that prayer but I wonder if it will ever do any good?” He or she would never know the wondrous change it wrought in at least one life.
God sent Jesus to be our guide and to help us understand. I read somewhere that Jesus did not come to give us a guidebook and a set of rules, instead he gave us a compass with which we might find our way.
It may take us a while to find our bearings and plot the course, but that’s OK, God is very very patient with us.
Lord God our loving Father, for sending your son we Bless you, for waiting for us we Bless you, for welcoming us we Bless you. For being our God, our Father and our guide we give you our undying devotion.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,