Summary: Looking at the "O" characteristics of God (omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience) we can understand the command of God: Ye MUST be born again.
March 26, 2006
Fourth Sunday in the Season of Lent
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
John 3:14-21 (NRSVA)
Have you taken time lately to consider the “omni” qualities of God, omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence? Those “o-words” take us through a grand sweep of the nature of God. He is the all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present One the Bible calls God and Creator.
There’s nothing strength can do that He cannot do; there is nothing of which he is ignorant, past, present or future; there is nowhere to which you can ascend, descend or hide from His ever-watchful eye. He is God.
These characteristics of God are not an exhaustive list. We could add many more – faithfulness, truth, eternality, just, righteous, patient, longsuffering and much more.
This morning’s text leads us to one of Christianity’s greatest statements. John 3.16 has been called the greatest verse in the Bible. It is learned in Vacation Bible School, quoted often in sermons and even hung over guard rails in football stadiums during the Super Bowl. I even heard of a man who changed his name legally to John Threesixteen.
It is natural to connect God with the idea of love. Human beings have fallen far from that image. A grandmother was going shopping with her daughter and two little boys. The children had discovered a new word to use when upset with each other. As they started for the stores they suddenly they became angry with each other. "I hate you!" and "I hate you, too!" they yelled back and forth. "That’s not very nice," their mother said. "I’m certainly not going to take two little boys who hate each other to McDonald’s for lunch." Five-year-old Jamie quickly backed down. "I don’t really hate you, Billy." But Billy, with the clear logic of three years, responded, "I still hate you! I’m not hungry."
Elizabeth and I were coming home from a wonderful after-church meal some years ago. We had been to one of Jacksonville’s premier elite restaurants, The Piccadilly Cafeteria! I exited off the four-lane highway and as we approached the stoplight I could see an older brown Toyota already stopped at the light. There was a sign taped to the back window. As we came closer to the back of that car I could finally make out the crudely hand-lettered message, I HATE YOU!
I hate you; three words, so much a vitriolic picture of an embittered life. That sign made quite an impression on me that day. Human hatred has always been quite an enigma for me. However, an impression which has been stronger and longer-lasting was the message of John 3.16, the day God said to my heart I love you.
The Meaning of Love
As with any word, people can perceive a different meaning. If I ask you to come to my house for dinner, some of you would show up at noon, others around 6pm. It depends upon what time you’re used to connecting with the word “dinner”. If you eat “liver puddin” in Franklinville, you’ll eat “scrapple” up North. Same stuff – different word.
There are different meanings for the word “love” as well. There is romantic love, the kind between a man and woman. There is brotherly love we have for friends. We also have parental love, and love for our pets. There is a whole host of uses for love when it comes to appreciating things, food, sports. I “love” my job. My cousin drives a Mercedes…he says he loves it!
In the 60’s movie “Love Story” Ali McGraw turned to Ryan O’Neal and said, Love means never having to say you’re sorry. I call that “love drivel”. And The King [sic] Elvis wanted the ladies to Love Me Tender.