Read: John 3:1-17
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (v. 17)
There’s a little phrase after the well-known John 3:16 that still astonishes me. Jesus didn’t come here to condemn the world. Instead of arriving in power and authority, wielding a big stick, he came on a peace mission, and anyone can accept his treaty: become my friend, accept the payment I will make for your sin, and be welcomed into my Father’s kingdom. A gift called grace.
Is it too good to be true? Well, there is a catch. Once we say yes to the King, we belong to him, just like a child “belongs” to parents. He has a stake in our lives, and will pursue us when we go off course. Even then, the process is grace-infused. God moves us toward freedom from our neurotic, people-pleasing, idol-worshipping, addiction-centered lives. Sometimes it hurts. Our pride is pricked when we find our attempts to act righteous don’t work. We are sometimes broken for our own good.
Salvation is a trade-off. We either keep working at perfection (or not) on our terms and pay for our crimes and misdemeanors at the door to the kingdom, or we accept the gift of grace, take our “paid” invoice seriously and move forward into the plans God has for our good, our future, and our hope.
Giver of good gifts, thank you for grace–a wonderful trade-off. Thank you that Jesus didn’t make his advent to condemn, but to save.