Summary: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16.
Theme: Unity in diversity
There are three questions that are asked in every age and generation and that is where do I come from, who am I and where am I going? The answer to this question is very important as it gives a person an identity and enables him or her to discover the purpose and meaning of life. Many people, however, have no answers to these questions because they are searching for answers in the wrong places. It is only the Scriptures that can provide the right answers. Psychologists tell us that not knowing your roots easily results in an identity crisis - a crisis which manifests itself in broken relationships, drugs, alcohol, suicide, crime and violence. Such a life is not the will of God for us. God wants us to live in a way that glorifies Him and we can only do this when we know who we are. God wants us to know our identity and has therefore placed within every human heart something valuable to witness about Him and confirm our identity. Helen Keller is remembered the world over as a woman who had overcome great adversities. Having lost her sight, hearing and sense of smell to an illness at age two, Keller learnt to speak and read and earned a college degree. When told that God had in His love sent Christ to die for her sins, she responded with joy, saying that she always knew He was there, but didn’t know His name. She knew who she was because she knew her Creator. Knowing Christ is to know our identity and our identity ensures unity in diversity.
There is more to knowing God than the mere fact that He exists. Creation declares that there must be a Creator. Philosophers and scientists tell us something about His works - that the universe is one of order and design held together by immutable laws. Nature shows God as a Creator of beauty and infinite variety. Nevertheless, science and nature can reveal little about the moral nature of God. They cannot tell us that He is a loving Father or that He is a holy God who hates sin. This knowledge can only come by revelation through the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures declare that God chose to create the world and man because love is best expressed toward something or someone else. So the Creation of the world and people is an expression of the love of God. The world has known many people who are said to be great lovers, but, without doubt, the greatest lover of all is God Himself. The love of God was so great that He gave man authority and dominion over all His Creation. God loves us because of who He is rather than because of who we are. He offers to be our God not because we are lovable, but because He is loving. He offers to care for us not because of our goodness, or even because of our effort or good intentions. He loves us because that is the kind of God He is. Human love is variable whereas Divine love, God’s love, is unchanging, unchangeable and everlasting. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson human love is as subject to wear as the chocolates and cards, flowers and jewellery we use to express it. God loves every person in the world equally.
God wants every one to live eternally in fellowship with Him. He loves us enough to give us the freedom of choice, freedom to obey His commands or to disobey, but also enough to take our decisions seriously. To have no choice is to be less than human and to cease to exist in the likeness of God. Man chose to disobey God and this sin has separated him from God. Some may not recognize themselves as sinners, but we all agree that there is sin in the world. One only needs to read the newspapers with their pages filled with reports of murders, rape, drugs, crime, bribery and corruption to know that there is something wrong with society. Unfaithfulness in marriage, divorce, juvenile delinquency, drunkenness and other vices are all on the increase. As the Scriptures declare “there is none righteous, no not one…. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Love prompted God to make the greatest possible sacrifice so that man could be saved. There is a story of a devout Hindu who immigrated to England and was once confronted with the claims of Christ. He believed that a cow, an insect or a cobra was sacred but he could not understand the Christian concept that God actually visited this planet in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. One day as he walked through the fields wrestling in his mind with this concept of God, he came across an anthill with thousands of ants. He then noticed that the anthill was in the path of a farmer ploughing the field. Since ants were sacred to him, he was gripped with a concern for them that we would have for thousands of people trapped in a burning building. He wanted to warn them of their impending destruction but could see no way to do this. He could shout to them but they would not be able to hear. He could write in the sand, but they would not be able to read. He could see no way to communicate with them when he suddenly realized that if only he were an ant while retaining the nature of a man, he could warn the ants before it was too late. By being an ant he would be able to communicate with them and by remaining a man he would be able to continue to clearly assess the problem. Suddenly he understood the Christian concept. God became a man, Jesus Christ, but remained God in order to save mankind from destruction. Jesus gave up eternity to come to a hostile earth so that we could be reconciled to God and experience peace. It is often assumed that if God loves us, He is the one person in life we do not have to worry about. Bertrand Russell on his deathbed declared that God would forgive him, as that was His job. This renowned mathematician-philosopher conveniently overlooked the other half of the equation, which is that for anyone to know God’s forgiveness, that person first had to repent.