The Simplicity of Scripture
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Nicodemus came to Jesus to learn the truth. He recognized Jesus' miracles as a sign that he had come from God, but Nicodemus wanted to know more. In a few easy-to-read verses, Jesus told Nicodemus his purpose and what Nicodemus needed to do to follow him. Apparently, this conversation was enough to convince Nicodemus because he was one of the men who prepared Jesus' body for burial at the risk of being killed himself.
I have been pondering this passage for the last few days. It seems so simple, and yet it seems in today's church we rarely use it. I can't remember if I ever preached this passage. But it strikes at the very heart of Jesus' purpose on earth and the church's guide as Jesus' emissaries.
We spend a lot of time on theology and making sure we have it right. And we need to periodically do that so that we don't stray from the gospel. We spend a lot of church committee meetings determining how to offer worship on Sunday mornings. We don't want to upset anyone with our style of worship or they won't come back. It's important to have worship to meet the needs of a variety of people, but I think too often we lose God in worship in the process of keeping everyone happy.
We make things as complicated as the Pharisees did. We want a formula for being a Christian rather than simply coming to Jesus and recognizing his lordship. And letting his lordship be our guide. In the passage I quoted above, Jesus tells us to have eternal life, we must believe that he was sent to save us from our sins. Later Jesus told the rich young man that to follow him, he must get rid of everything that he holds more dear in his life than Christ. Christ has to be the most important thing in our lives. He is clear that "Those who love their life in this world will lose it." John 12:25
Jesus gives us the formula to be "good" Christians. He says "If you love me, obey my commandments." John 14:15. That's it. Obey his commandments. Simple, yet not easy. When we obey his commandments, we give up our autonomy. Our life is no longer our own, but his. I struggle with obedience every day. I want to stay at home and live my life where it is safe. He wants me to go out into the world and share his good news with others.
As we begin this journey of populating a new denomination, The Global Methodist Church, we need to remember that Jesus didn't build a church and expect the people to come to him. He went to the people and taught them where they were. Where they were physically, mentally, and emotionally. He reached into their lives, and their pain, and loved them. He brought the very best of the church to them.
As Global Methodists, let's follow his example and reach out before we invite them in. I believe it's where we must begin. It's where I will begin. What about you?