2012 Advent Devotion- Tuesday, December 18

by Sara Dorrien, First Presbyterian Church (Lake City, Michigan)

John 3:16-21

If a single verse can be said to define Christianity for millions, John 3:16 is the one. It is memorized by confirmands, painted across the cheeks of NFL players, printed on bumper stickers, and recognized by believers and nonbelievers alike. It is imbedded in the popular conscience.

I used to fear this verse. The first part evoked a sense of deep comfort, the second part caused discomfort and erased the previous claim. If “God so loved the world,” why were we perishing anyway? And now those who believe are saved but the rest are still condemned?

Understanding John 3:16 depends on how we define “perish” and who is responsible. Humans living in sin are responsible for most of the world’s pain.For the majority of people living in poverty and experiencing violence or its threat regularly, it’s not hard to believe we are indeed perishing, condemning ourselves by choosing destructive paths.

Believing, then, means actively resisting the evil we’re accustomed to. It is not merely an intellectual exercise or “Heaven Insurance,” but attaching one’s self to the light that God in Christ has compelled us to embrace. By this light darkness is exposed. By this light we live.

Gracious God, the darkness is overwhelming sometimes. It seems nothing can penetrate it. For your deep love, thank you. For dwelling with us, thank you. Draw me to your light. Amen.

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