Signposts: Daily Devotions

Sunday, March 27

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.
—John 3:16

Peter Gomes, the great Harvard chaplain and theologian, says that this text is so familiar as to be often dismissed as a Christian cliché. I agree with him. But in a powerful sermon called “Acts of God,” Gomes enlightens all of us who have heard this text so often that is in danger of losing its meaning.
When God sent his only Son into the world, says Gomes, it taught us two things about God’s actions in our world. The first is that God’s ultimate relationship to the world is not one of power or indifference but of affection, and the second is that God loves us so much that the ultimate expression of that love was to send himself in the form of his son. “This action of God dignifies the whole creation by becoming a part of it so that we might participate with God in making a new creation.”
Then Gomes asks,

Dare we invest less in humanity than God? Ought we not take the sign of God’s love for us in Christ as a sign that we are lovable and the world is worth loving? If that is so, can there be any possible limit to what we can attempt as God’s representatives in the world?

We are lovable and the world is worth loving. What an insight and what a challenge.
Gomes offers a whole new perspective on this famous text. When I’ve read or heard the words of John 3:16 before now, I’ve thought I was given a gift, albeit one I didn’t know exactly what to do with. Now I am challenged to be part of God’s redemptive work in the world. It’s a tall order. What can I do to protect and preserve the ecology of our fragile planet? What steps can I take to make the distribution of resources more equitable? How can I help bring about non-violent behavior?
May God give us the grace and courage to act on God’s behalf in our families, communities, nations and worlds.

Dear God, make us instruments of your peace—and love. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.