December 21, 2014 – The Choice is Yours

December 21, 2014 – The Choice is Yours
Ryan Scott

John 3:16-21

As human beings, we don’t often like being told what to do. There’s some part of us that just screams for self-determination. Often that notion is beaten out of us – sometimes literally, other times through education and social pressure. We’re taught to follow the rules and to know right from wrong.

Christianity, for many, is just an extension of this process. Even when we know better, our faith can become a series of dos and don’ts. Some things are good, some things are bad. If we do the good, we’re praised; if we do the bad we’re condemned.

Here, though, John explains that Jesus came into the world out of God’s great love for us and without any condemnation. Yet the language of good and evil, light and dark used in this passage sounds a lot like condemnation. How do we reconcile these things?

We need to see the whole message in context. This passage comes on the tail end of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, and the urging to be born again. The explanation of light and dark at the end of our passage is just another attempt at the same metaphor.

The world is dark, because that’s how the world is. For thousands of years the world was the only vision of reality anyone knew. Only with the coming of Jesus are we presented with an alternative. No longer are the people of God called to live differently in the midst of a world with war, famine, pain, violence, hunger. Now we are called to put hope in a world where none of these exist – God’s now and future kingdom. God’s Son calls us out of darkness, not because the darkness is wrong, but because the light is so much better.

There is no condemnation unless we choose it. John is merely presenting two options: the world as it is or the world as it’s meant to be. Like a womb, our world is comfortable and familiar.  There is no reason for a baby to be born; it has everything it needs already. But without birth, this baby will never experience the world – love, life, beauty, and all the good God intends for God’s children. To step out of darkness and choose something new is incredibly scary, but it is the only way to experience real life.

This is not about right or wrong, but about the kind of eternity in which we want to live. The choice is before us (and one we make every day): remain in darkness, or be born again into God’s glorious light.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, God’s own people,
in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts
of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

- 1 Peter 2:9

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