In less than three months, we will close the books on what has been the strangest year in most of our lives. A virus that none of us had even heard of a year ago has now drastically changed everything.
We have learned that a facemask may be our most important earthly possession.
We have witnessed cultural shifts that many of us have found difficult to navigate well.
And we have argued about it all:
Every tidbit of medical information has generated arguments.
Every bit of news has generated arguments.
Every cultural topic has created arguments.
And don’t even get started on the topic of facemasks or you risk losing half of your friends.
We even argue about arguing!
But the most bewildering of the arguments to me has been the argument over which lives matter.
I am not here to take sides on the “Black Lives Matter” versus “All Lives Matter” argument. To be honest, I understand the sentiment on both sides, but I detest the divisiveness of the argument. It seems to me that Jesus himself settled that argument with the word “whosoever” in John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that WHOSOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Whether or not you have ever set foot in a church building or ever read a Bible, you are likely familiar with this verse. If there is any verse that you can quote from memory, it is probably this one. If Christianity has a logo, this is it. It is the foundational truth of our faith captured in one sentence. Way to go, Jesus!
By this one statement, Jesus removed the adjective from the phrase we argue about. Jesus made it clear that “Lives Matter”. Period.
There have been tons of books written and untold thousands of sermons preached on this verse by people much smarter biblically than I will ever be.
But in the context of “Lives Matter”, I highlight three points:
The entire motivation for God’s plan of salvation was love.
He loved the people of the world so much that he gave Jesus to die as a sacrifice to cover our sins. Until we understand that we are unconditionally loved by God, nothing else makes sense. Our lives matter because God himself loves us.
And Jesus made it clear that we are to love God in return and that we are to love others. In fact, Jesus expressed the entire action plan of our faith with those two instructions. Imagine for a moment what our world would look like if genuine love dictated every decision we make, every word we speak, every action we take, and every attitude we exhibit.
Imagine how many laws, rules, and regulations could be abolished if genuine love ever became the motivation and governing reality in our lives. There would be no need to ever argue again over which lives matter.
Did Jesus really mean that salvation was available to “whosoever believes in him”?
Well, Jesus said it, so I think he meant it. I don’t think that there are any disclaimers or small print. I really think that “whosoever” actually means whosoever.
Unfortunately, one of the great tragedies of organized religion is that many have tried to place restrictions, requirements, and qualifications on salvation that Jesus never placed there. They have tried to make “whosoever believes in him” conditional.
At this very moment, I know of a young man who wants a relationship with Christ but has been made to feel that his choices in life are an insurmountable barrier to God’s grace. He doesn’t feel that he can possibly be included in “whosoever”.
He doesn’t feel that his life matters to God.
Nothing could be further from the truth for him or for anyone else.
John 3:16 speaks of eternal life, and that is indeed the most precious gift imaginable. But let’s be honest – most of us are just trying to make it through 2020.
The good news is that not only do our lives after this earth matter to God but our lives also matter this year, this month, and this week matter to him. Our lives today matter to him.
Believing in Jesus for our salvation also means we can trust in him for help and guidance in our everyday lives. And that help and guidance is also available to “whosoever believes in Jesus”. And it is available to us not only in our spiritual lives, but in every aspect of our lives.
Our lives matter to God in every way.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that WHOSOEVER believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
SO WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Before we go, I’ll share four personal thoughts about your life:
1. Your life matters to God
No matter who you are, what you do, or what you have done, he loves you and has a design and purpose for your life. You are included in the “whosoever”. Ask God to make you more aware daily of his love and concern for you.
2. Every other life matters to God.
There is not a single life on this earth that matters to God any more or any less than yours does. He loves each of us unconditionally. Even your worst enemy is included in the “whosoever”. Ask God to help you see others as he sees them and to love them as he loves them.
3. Your life matters to others
You are here for a reason. You have something to contribute. Whether you think so our not, you are needed. There are multitudes that need a word of support or encouragement in this difficult year, and you may be just the person to do that. Ask God to show you where and how he wants you to make a positive difference to someone else.
4. Others’ lives matter to you
God never intended for you to live this life independent of others. Whether you realize it or not, he has placed people in your life to have a positive impact on you. Don’t be too prideful to seek those people out and ask for help when needed. We are all in this together.
Ask God to break down any barriers that need to be broken down between yourself and others.
So do we really have to argue about which lives matter?
Could we all just drop the adjectives completely and agree that “Lives Matter”?
Maybe the next time the topic comes up, you can sound all spiritual and throw in the word whosoever. Maybe you can quote John 3:16. That might prevent an argument. Or unfortunately it could ignite one – but at least you tried.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that WHOSOEVER believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
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