Summary: In John 3:16, what kind of a world is Jesus talking about that needs saving?
Love the World
John 3:16 rings out loud and clear, “God so loved the world…” As I have traveled to some of our Free Methodist mission work I have witnessed the suffering of different people. I asked myself, “If God loves the world, why does he allow innocent people to suffer?”
In Haiti we traveled back roads to visit Albert Schweitzer Hospital. There I saw little babies with bloated stomachs lying helplessly from malnutrition. The hospital was doing their best to show God’s love to these little babies, but why do they have to suffer?
In Port-A-Prince Haiti as we traveled along the back streets you could see family after family living in cardboard houses and out on the street begging for food to eat.
In China we traveled by boat to an island caring for men and women with no feet or hands caused by leprosy. The sight of these suffering people was sickening.
I did see the love of God at work in the lives of missionaries caring for the sick. Ruth Winslow was love in action as she washed away dead skin and put fresh dressings on leprous sores.
What is Jesus talking about when he told Nicodemus “God so loved the world…?” Jesus told Nicodemus that God sent his one and only son not to condemn the world but to save the world.
The world Jesus is talking about needs saving.
I. World – an Evil System
The world that Jesus came to save is a world system that is evil, under the control of the god of this world, Satan. Jesus taught that as long as we live in this evil world system there will be suffering and pain. Jesus said that in this world we would have “tribulation.” The same root word used for “tribulation” is used for pressing out grapes into juice.
The Apostle Paul speaks of this evil world system in II Corinthians 4:4, “Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who don believe, so they are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News that is shinning upon them. They don’t understand the message we preach about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” NLT
Satan, the god of this evil world system, is your chief enemy. The Apostle Peter gives this warning, “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a raring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that Christians all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.” I Peter 5:8-9
I’m afraid that the average American easily becomes inoculated to the basic teachings of scripture. Fairly recent polls show that 84 % of Americans believe in God. If you asked person on the street if he is a Christian he would tell you, “Yes, I’m as good a Christian as the next person.” “Who’s lost, I know exactly where I’m going.” The term Christian has lost its true meaning as a Christ follower. Many follow Jesus as such a distance they need telephoto lens to see Jesus. True followers are so close in following the steps of Jesus they get dusty.
Rather than turn to God, people turn to science, education, politics, protests, self – help resources. God is mocked on television and in movies, God is preached like a chameleon in some places. You can form god to meet your needs. Hearts become hardened to the creator God, maker of heaven and earth.