“God So Loved the World”: A sermon by Pastor Bob

God so loved the world that he did for it, and for us, these six things.

God so loved the world

A sermon by Pastor Bob

March 11, 2012

Text: John 3:14-21

John 3:14-21

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

–If you could pick one favorite verse from the Bible, what would it be?

–When I ask this of people, I often hear John 3:16.

–It is a great verse.

–Some say it is the gospel in a nutshell.

–But it is not mere doctrine or desire.

–It is not a flash out of the blue on the way to the cross.

–It is part of a love story older than time.

–For God has always so loved the world that …

 

he created life

–God created this world, this universe and all that is in it.

–God created all the creatures, including us.

–And God declared his creation good.

–God then called upon humans to be caretakers of God’s creation.

–But the caretakers forgot the one who created them, the one who gave them a world to take care of in the first place.

–The caretakers mistook themselves as owners, and not just owners of this world, but owners of their own destiny.

–The story of Adam and Eve speaks of this so well when the serpent tempts them with the words, “If you do this you will be like God.”

–This self-deception of believing that we are not dependent creatures of God but independent creators of our own destiny is called sin.

–It is in essence to separate ourselves from God.

–It is to say “we don’t need God,” for ultimately in our self-absorption we believe ourselves to be God.

–With God being the source of all life, separation literally means death and so humanity has gone through many generations of folks being born, living, dying…killing.

 

he chose a people

–God had through the years extended relationship to many—people but to Abraham, God extended a promise.

–Abraham and his wife Sarah were inhabitants of ancient Mesopotamia.

–And to them, God said, “I will make of you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

–And so God chose a people and it would be through these people that God would so love the world.

–And through the descendents of Abraham and Sarah a nation arose, but soon found itself enslaved in the land of Egypt and its Pharaohs.

–God heard their groans, and God remembered his promise.

–Through Moses, God called his chosen people out of their bondage in Egypt and into the wilderness.

–The great Exodus.

–But this was a time of trial for God’s chosen people.

–And it was in the wilderness that God showed them that they were still God’s creatures.

–Dependent upon God not only for food, water and shelter, but for live-giving worship.

–Yet, like all people before them and after, they murmured and rebelled, and they struggled against such an arrangement.

–So it was also a time of unfaithfulness, of serpents and poles and as always, divine patience.

 

he gave the law

–God gave his chosen people laws to live by:

–Laws of many kinds, but chiefly 10 commandments that speak not only of how we are to treat each other

–But of how dependent we are upon our relationship with God.

–In essence, God’s laws show us that how we live together is dependent upon how we live with God…

–Finally, after 40 years in the wilderness, God’s chosen people reached the promised land.

–And if there was temptation in the wilderness, it was one-hundred-fold in the land that would be called Israel.

–In this promised land, there was the temptation to worship everything but God and so God gave them Judges to help them manage their affairs and to keep them faithful.

–Like in Egypt, the chosen people of God grew into a nation and now they sought what all the nations around them had: political power.

–They wanted a king.

–They wanted a ruler who would lead them in conquering the peoples around them and create a great state.

–And so briefly there was a line of kings, some good, some bad, but instead of bringing God’s chosen people together, they ultimately split them apart.

–For in wanting kings, they forgot who was truly their King: God.

–Again, like a broken record or more appropriately today, a scratched CD (or a bad iTunes download?), God’s people forgot that God was God and they were not.

 

he spoke through the prophets…

–God never gave up on a world that consistently rejected him.

–Amidst political and national disaster, and much of Israel being carried off into exile—into another wilderness, if you will.

–These prophets spoke. They said:

–God’s promises were sure, God’s love eternal.

–Of these people God would bless the world.

–Of these people a true king would arise.

–And of these people, this king would be the savior of all people.

 

he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life

–Out of God’s chosen people came a man named Jesus.

–He was an unexpected Messiah, an unexpected king.

–He did not seek power over others.

–But rather, he served them.

–He did not seek to possess the world, for he knew the world was God’s.

–He did not seek after other gods, for he knew only one God.

–Whereas the world sought to be divine, to be like God

–Jesus sought to be truly human.

–For Jesus was the Son of God, God incarnate in the flesh.

–How does God love a world that seeks to replace him, to essentially eliminate God with self?

–God allowed it to happen, and it happened on a cross, the most torturous and shameful death imaginable.

–God so loved the world that God gave God’s self in Jesus as a light to a world of darkness.

–A light that could not be overcome, even in death.

–And so God raised Jesus from the dead, and in doing so gave us the opportunity for new life with God.

–A new life lived today, tomorrow and into eternity.

 

he loves you

–Each of you are God’s child.

–Not for what you have done or not done, but because God created you, died for you, and, most of all, loves you.

–Though sin sometimes deadens us to this reality, God will never give up on us.

–Our baptisms mark this determination of God’s, as we are sealed by God’s Holy Spirit and marked with cross of Christ forever.

–And in our daily walk with God and our struggles in the wilderness of this world, we can be assured of God’s grace and God’s promise that we will never be separated from the love of God.

***************************

Every Sunday morning you will find published here notes for the sermon my friend Pastor Bob will that morning be giving at the church he serves in San Diego.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Ashley C

    Sunday mornings with a cup of coffee and Pastor Bob’s sermon notes do more for me than attending any local church ever has. Thank you both for sharing this each week.

  • Keetcha

    I look forward to Pastor Bob post’s every Sunday. It is the digging deep that he actually does, so that it opens my eyes, mind and heart as it needs to. I’m with Ashley thanks to both of you.

  • tim warner

    I love these pithy comments of Pastor Bob which nail the truth to my heart. What church does he pastor?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kelly-Withee/100001922106189 Kelly Withee via Facebook

    Wonderful!

  • Robert Hagedorn

    Adam and Eve? Google First Scandal.

  • cat rennolds

    whoa. usually I am 100% on board with Pastor Bob, but this part got me….Believing that we are independent creators of our own destiny is a sin?

    I thought we were created in His image? Given free will? Isn’t that what He WANTED us to do?

    How could there BE sin without independence?

  • karem

    Jesus and Muhammad are Brothers

    By Ibrahim Hooper

    Many of our Christian brothers and sisters may be surprised to know that Muslims love and revere Jesus as one of God’s greatest messengers to mankind, just as we love and revere the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon them both.

    The Prophet Muhammad sought to erase any distinctions between the message he taught and that taught by Jesus, whom he called God’s “spirit and word.”

    Prophet Muhammad said:

    “Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.”

    “Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! God gives thee glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.’”

    The quote above is not from the New Testament. It is taken from the Quran, Islam’s revealed text. (3:45)

    Other verses in the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the direct word of God, state that Jesus was strengthened with the “Holy Spirit” (2:87) and is a “sign for the whole world.” (21:91) His virgin birth was confirmed when Mary is quoted as asking: “How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?” (3:47)

    An entire chapter of the Quran (Chapter 19) is named after Jesus’ mother Mary, “Maryam” in the Arabic of the Quran.

    The Quran shows Jesus speaking from the cradle and, with God’s permission, curing lepers and the blind. (5:110) God also states in the Quran: “We gave (Jesus) the Gospel and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers.” (57:27)

    Muslims believe Jesus will return to earth in the last days before the final judgment. Disrespect toward Jesus is very offensive to Muslims.

    The message of love, peace and forgiveness taught by Jesus, and accepted by both Christians and Muslims, can serve as a unifying force in a troubled world.

    It is the same message of unity expressed by another verse in the Quran:

    “Say ye: ‘We believe in God and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves.’” (2:136)

    Obviously, Muslims and Christians have differing interpretations of the details of the life and message of Jesus. But by focusing on what we have in common, Christians and Muslims of goodwill can help build bridges of interfaith understanding and serve as a counterweight to the voices of division and extremism.

    As the Quran tells us:

    “O humankind! We have created you male and female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you.” (49:13)

    *[Ibrahim Hooper is national communications director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties organization.


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