Summary: For God so love the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish

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Sermon for John 3:1-17

February 17th 2008

As I’ve mentioned over and over Lent is a time of struggle, a time of spiritual growth. Well I’m not sure if I grew this week, but most of the week I sure did struggle. I struggled with why are we here? Not so much in the existential sense—you know why do I exist, but more along the line why are we here right now, in this place—you know why am I in church?

Some of us may be here because their parents dragged them out of bed and made them come. Some of us may be here because their spouse dragged them out of bed and made them come. It reminds me of a true story that happen right here in this church some 30 years ago. I had just gotten out the Marine Corps and needed a place to live, so I moved to glorious Highland Indiana.

One particular Saturday night I had gone out to sow my wild oats, and came wandering in at the wee hours of Sunday morning. My father who was the pastor here started worship with the announcements and looked toward my mother, sitting right about the same place as Sandy, my wife and said, “Maurine, where’s David.” She replied, “Couldn’t drag him out of bed.”

Any of you that knew my dad would not be surprised what he did next. He left you fine people sitting in the sanctuary, went to the office and called home. Now this was before all the voice mail and stuff, so the phone rang and rang and rang till I finally had no choice but to answer it. It was my dear ole dad with the bright cheerful voice saying, “Son, get your no good butt to church—Right Now!” And hung up. I was 22. I was scared to death.

Later that day he calmly explained why I would be in church from now on, “He said, “Son—he always called me Son—If you live in my house you will be in God’s house every week!” That’s why I came to church for so long!

Maybe some of you can relate to that story.

However, there are other reasons we may find ourselves here in God’s house. Maybe it is simply because of habit, or it just seems like the right things to do. We’ve done it for so long our week wouldn’t seem quite right it we missed.

Some of might be here out of guilt, hoping that this one hour might somehow make it go away. Some of us might be here because we are searching for something—anything. Life’s not going quite right and maybe just maybe I can find whatever? So why are we here? And so continues my struggle.

Because believe it or not, I take all your reasons for being here personally. It’s weird because for those who are here and don’t want to be, I try and make it not so bad. For those who are here out of habit, I desire to shake things up a bit and get them out of their routine. For those who feel guilt I want in the worst way to make it go away. For those who are searching, I pray and pray that I may be able to give them some type of answer.

And then I come across the texts like today and I am humbled enough to realize, why we are here has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God! The simplicity of the Gospel and why we are here is laid bare in the most famous one liner of the Bible—John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life!” That’s why we are here!

If one knows little of the Bible and nothing of the church one still knows the saying of John 3:16. You see on car bumpers, billboard signs, even at the Super Bowl, but what does it mean? Better yet what does it do? Can this short phrase make those glad they got out of bed, shake one out of their routine, erase guilt, and give answers? You bet it can!

That is why we are here! Simply to take one hour out of our 168 hour week and thank God for John 3:16, and here the beauty of it all. When one takes that one hour out of our 168 hour week to thank and praise God then amazing things can begin to happen. That’s why we are here!

This morning let us revisit this famous one liner and see what it does to us?

“For God so loved the world!” A bold statement on the part of Jesus. Not a God who creates and lets it run like a clock, never winding it, not a God looking for some reason to strike you down or punish for your stupid mistakes, but a God who loves. Love not meaning a fondness of the heart for a given period of time when all is going well, but Love meaning always, always working toward the benefit not only of you, but the entire world. Making the sun shine upon everyone, giving food enough for everyone regardless of race or creed or deed.

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