John 3: 16-18
16 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.18 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.
The Word is Compassion not Condemnation
Last week, we started off this year by defining compassion and highlighting it as a core aspect of the ministry of Jesus. This week, we’re looking at the 3rd chapter of John’s Gospel to see how compassion relates to Jesus himself. As most people know, John tells us the Jesus was sent into the world to save the world. However, what is often overlooked is the beginning of John 3:17. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world.” This scripture is clear. Condemnation and condemning has nothing to do with the ministry, mission, or purpose of Jesus.
I’m stressing this because it seems that condemnation has become the cool thing to do, even for Christians. Indeed, so much of American public discourse is now laced with demonizing, condemning rhetoric. As society, we no longer look to communicate with each other. Instead, the focus has become to denounce, chastise, berate, or rebuke each other. It is becoming more and more acceptable to view opponents on political or cultural issues as mortal enemies with no redeeming value. Such dehumanization of each other is in direct conflict with the teachings and lifestyle of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For those of us who call ourselves Christians, we are called to conduct ourselves with a certain level of decorum and compassion,even when disagreeing with people. In Matthew 18:17, we are told that even in worst case scenarios such as unrepentant sinning, we simply disengage from such people. We are not told to ridicule, criticize, or condemn people.
With so many challenging and anxiety provoking issues taking place both within and without the church, avoiding condemning people who continually disagree with us is challenging, to say the least. What Would Jesus Do? Jesus was sent NOT to condemn but to save. As Christians, our behavior and rhetoric should always reflect compassion not condemnation.