Belief in God is waning throughout western civilization. The Fear of God has almost been forgotten. The righteous seem to suffer, while the wicked live full lives (Ecclesiastes 7:15). Where is justice? Where can we find proof that God still cares for this fallen world?
In the 3rd chapter of John, we like to skip to the 16th verse: “For 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.” But it’s important to not skip over the first part of the chapter where Nicodemus comes to Jesus to find out more about what he’s been preaching. Why did Nicodemus, a Pharisee and someone who could have been considered an enemy to Jesus’ teaching, come to learn more about those teachings? Why did he trust Jesus enough to come to him for truth?
Nicodemus said to Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:2).
Wow! What brought Nicodemus, and so many others, to Jesus was the “signs” he was doing—the work he was doing in the world in God’s name. What’s interesting is that Jesus wasn’t fighting the pagan Roman government, he wasn’t campaigning against unjust or even ungodly laws, he wasn’t engaging in an ugly war of words with every person who didn’t agree with his teachings. He was going out into the communities around him and meeting people one-on-one, healing their hurts, providing food, showing mercy. These “signs” were not meant to save people’s souls, and they did little in themselves to change the world, but they got people to listen. And what Jesus had to say did have the power to change the world—one person at a time.
When we think of all the things Jesus did while walking in our world, and all the things he could have done but didn’t, perhaps we should rethink the things we, as Christians, are doing in the world today in his name.
It seems that one of the greatest arguments against believing in the God of Christianity is the people who call themselves Christian but who act no better (and often worse) than the non-Christian people around them. Instead of shining as a light to the world, pointing the way to a loving and merciful—yet powerful and holy—God, Christians are accused of self-interest, hypocrisy, and judgmentalism. Instead of meeting people in their needs and offering them love and mercy, we use the teachings of Jesus to beat others over the head and justify our hatred. Instead of continuing the work of Jesus in the world, we sit back and wait for God to rain down fire and brimstone on the ungodly. And then we wonder why we don’t see God working in the world today.
Perhaps we should try something different.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).