Worth the Risk


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On Sunday, Pastor Donnell spoke of God’s love for us. The apostle John, in chapter three of his gospel, says:

16For 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. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)

For this week’s meditation, we want to delve more deeply into what this means for us.  

When you have some time this week to pray, find a quiet place and try to quiet your mind and heart. Give whatever has been on your mind to God for the time that you will be praying.

As a preparation for your prayer, consider the world that existed when the apostle John wrote this passage. It was not generally a peaceful world. War was common. Israel itself, while technically at peace, had lost several wars and was under the cruel domination of Rome, its governor and its army. Most people were poor, though a few were very rich. Those with power usually used it for their own benefit. Slavery was an accepted way society and the economy worked. Women had few rights. So when we read that God loved “the world”, the world was not idyllic; far from it.

When you are ready, read the passage from John 3 once slowly. Sit with each phrase, letting its full meaning sink in. You might imagine God i the room (or outside) saying the words with you (though he might be saying “I” instead of God). Imagine what it means for God to love the world, for God to give his one and only Son, etc. If you have any questions, ask God to help you understand better. You can even ask how he felt about loving the world, giving his son, etc. Then comes believing in the Son, Jesus. Is this primarily a matter of believing certain theological truths for you, does it involve living a certain way, both? Share your thoughts with God, as well as any questions you might have. Finally come the statements about salvations and condemnation. How do you feel about your relationship with God? What does being saved or salvation mean for you? Share your thoughts and feelings with God, as well as your questions.

When you’ve finished reading the passage, pause for a minute or two. Let your mind go back over places where you sensed a stronger presence of God.  

When it seems right, read the passage one more time, more slowly this time. You might read it out loud this time, as this slows you down and there is something about hearing yourself say something that makes you take it more seriously. You might pause after every phrase, or wherever you sense God’s presence, a question, or the need to consider what John is saying more seriously. Feel free to go back over items that were significant the first time though, but also be open to new issues that arise.

When you are done, jot down any thoughts feelings or decisions which seem significant. You might end your time of prayer by thanking God for this opportunity to converse with him.

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: spiritual.practices@annarborvineyard.org.

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