Grace and Judgment
By: Rev. Greg Batson
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)
We've heard the words of John 3:16 so often that we are in danger of missing its true meaning. The key concepts are "grace" and "judgment", and each of these deserve a closer look.
The "grace" part of this scripture is the gift of God's son, Jesus Christ, to the world. The Greek root for grace means "gift'. It is the ultimate expression of God's love, agape, to humanity. It is the gift of spiritual life, healing the broken relationship between us and God. It is a gift offered to all.
The "judgment" part of this passage is the use of the word "condemn" in verse 17. It is derived from the Greek word meaning "judgment" - to decide about something. John makes it clear that Jesus was not sent by God to judge the world, only to save it. But Christ's arrival does present a choice for us to make: will we choose light over darkness, good over evil? We are asked to make a commitment to believe and in God's love rather than rely on our own plans and devices.
This is the balance of faith - grace and free will - linked by our belief. It determines how we live our lives daily. We are now over halfway through the Lenten season. This is the time to focus on our commitment to Christ as we turn our faces to Jerusalem, for there we will accompany Jesus as he enters the city and faces his passion and death. We also want to be there to witness the empty tomb, and realize the gift of eternal life given by God.