17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
Jesus continues His explanation of God’s love for us and what it means for us. I was thinking this morning about why some people get hung up on the idea of Jesus coming to earth to save us. I think we pause at the man that was Jesus, not the God Jesus. Jesus is God. He isn’t separate from God, but rather God in human form. As a man, He came to set an example of love. As God, He came to save us from ourselves. Yet, we fail to recognize His Godliness, thinking that “why should I worship a mere man?” We should never worship a man, we should worship God. This was the exact example He set for us.
I imagined this analogy yesterday about this topic. Why would God come down to live with us? Because He loves us! We can even look at the end of His ministry when He was hanging on the cross and people scoffed at Him, “if you truly are the Son of God, then come down off that cross and save yourself!” We see here, though, that He wasn’t here to save Himself, but rather us. It is hard for us to imagine why an all powerful God would humble Himself to come down to earth. That is perfect love. It made me think of when we are playing with a young child, maybe 5 or 6. They want to wrestle and “fight.” Do we fight them as if they are our equals? No. If you were to sock a 5 year old like you would a 30 year old, surely it would no longer be a game. Similarly, God came down to us and played on our level, so we might understand how to do it His way, so that we may learn. This is what John is talking about in verse 18, in regards to belief. If we do not or cannot believe that God loved us this much, that He truly is God and can do whatever He wishes, then we don’t truly believe in God.
In judgment, we are held accountable to those things that are done in the dark. While this might allude to things done in secret, the comparison here is between light and dark, good and evil. The things done that are sinful, not of the light, are exposed for what they really are. What does this mean? We read elsewhere in the bible that sinfulness is not a deed, but rather a heart condition. What is exposed by the Light is the condition of our hearts. Why are their hearts exposed? For their deeds were evil. We read many times over that our actions are a result of our heart condition and if we are to change that which we do, we must first change that which we feel. Likewise, if our hearts are filled with evil, then we reject the light, regardless of what we realize. We feel trapped in our sin and as though there is no way out. We learn, however, that god will always welcome us back if we have a repentant heart.
Verse 21 opens the door for us. We read in James 2:18, “ 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” It is our faith that God loves us that transforms our inner being. As our heart condition turns towards Him, our actions reflect this new allegiance. One can say all they want that they believe, but it is seen and exhibited in how they act towards others. The more they act like Jesus, the more they believe, the more faith they have. This is why “becoming Christ-like” is a goal for many Christians. It isn’t so that they can “be good,” but rather because it is a measure of how much they serve and love God.
Who are you like?