Summary: This sermon attempts to take the most familiar text in the Bible and look at it in a somewhat new way so that it has an impact on the hearers.
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.
FEBRUARY 17, 2008 AM
SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT, YEAR A
BLYTHEVILLE, AR CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE
INTRO. As with many innovations, the originator of 3M’s sticky yellow Post-its didn’t know what he had - at first. Researcher Spence Silver was curious about what would happen if he mixed an unusual amount of monomer into a polymer-based adhesive he was working on. The result was an adhesive that would “tack” one piece of paper to another and even restick, without leaving any residue on the second piece of paper. The company had no use for the new adhesive until 3M chemist Arthur Fry began having problems in the choir loft. The slips of paper he used to mark pages in his hymnal often fluttered to the floor, leaving him frantically searching for his place. Then he remembered Silver’s adhesive. Fry’s better bookmark soon metamorphosed into the handy Post-its that have become a fixture in offices throughout the country (Discipleship Journal, Issue #48, p. 28; posted on bible.org). It just took a while for the folks at 3M to get it! Many times, even adults don’t seem to get the gospel, to understand what it is for. We get busy with life, with rushing from here to there, to do this and that. You know people like that - maybe you are a person like that! I would like to use John 3:16, a verse familiar to many of us, to remind us what life is all about.
I. GOD LOVES US. In our heads, we know this, but do we know it in our hearts? Back when Touched by an Angel was a show that ran on CBS, this is what it did such a great job of telling people - God loves us. Many times, when the star of the week realized that God loved him or her, it would move them to tears, and more than once, it moved me to tears as well! God loves us.
Every year the youngest children in the Trinity Lutheran preschool in Crown Point, Indiana, steal the show at their end-of-the-year program. One year they did the usual waves to parents, making faces and tugging at their clothes. The highlight came when 11 children - none of whom could yet read - proudly held up brightly colored 3-foot-high letters that spelled: DOG LOVES YOU (Richard A. Vurva, Merrillville, Indiana, on bible.org). How come so many find it easier to believe that their spouse, kids or even their dog loves them that the fact that God loves them? Get over it! God loves you! There is nothing you can do to make God love you less, and there is nothing you can do to make God love you more! I don’t say that to encourage you to sin or to not do good, but that’s the truth. GOD LOVES US.
II. WE MESSED UP. Sad to say, in spite of all the good God has done to us, we messed up. We sinned. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and none of us can say we have not. You may have gone to church as long as you can remember, lived a clean life, and be looked up to by friends and family, but if you do not have God, you are lost. Sin will mess us up every time. I may have mentioned before the incident in the life of Malcolm Muggeridge, famous Christian writer from England, as described by Ravi Zacharias:
One of the most powerful stories I have ever heard on the nature of the human heart is told by Malcolm Muggeridge. Working as a journalist in India, he left his residence one evening to go to a nearby river for a swim. As he entered the water, across the river he saw an Indian woman from the nearby village who had come to have her bath. Muggeridge impulsively felt the allurement of the moment, and temptation stormed into his mind. He had lived with this kind of struggle for years but had somehow fought it off in honor of his commitment to his wife, Kitty. On this occasion, however, he wondered if he could cross the line of marital fidelity. He struggled just for a moment and then swam furiously toward the woman, literally trying to outdistance his conscience. His mind fed him the fantasy that stolen waters would be sweet, and he swam the harder for it. Now he was just two or three feet away from her, and as he emerged from the water, any emotion that may have gripped him paled into insignificance when compared with the devastation that shattered him as he looked at her.