Chapter 3 aught to come with a warning; "proceed with caution." While John 3 contains some of the most often quoted versus in all of the Bible, it remains one of the most controversial. Chapter 3 gives us the heart of the Gospel, telling the readers that God's central passion is for fallen mankind and that to know God, you must be born from above.
The controversy stems from the teaching of this chapter that Jesus is not just "a way" to God, but the only way. John then goes on to say that few believe in Jesus for who he truly is and that those who reject Jesus as God's Son will not receive eternal life. The Bible says that the way is very narrow (Mt. 7:13-14) and that there is only one mediator that can reconcile God and man and that is the person of Jesus (I Tim. 2:5). It's easy to think about God loving the world but how hard is it for you to think about a God who judges those who do not beleive in His only Son? How do you reconcile a God who loves mankind with such a passion and yet says that those who are not born again remain under God's angry judgment? Is it hard to see God as both loving and just?
As you have been reading John, have you noticed the crowds gathering around Jesus in these first 3 chapters? The Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) often pan the crowds and tell us the various reasons why people followed Jesus. Some were fascinated, some wanted to see miraculous signs, some wanted political freedom from Rome and some thought is was the "in" thing to do. Notice back in chapter 2:24 that even though people began following Him, Jesus did not entrust Himself to them because He knew their hearts. In the words Jesus asked Peter; who do you say that Jesus really is?
As you contemplate this incredible chapter, what difference does the truth of the passage make in the way you view your freindships and those God brings in your life? If what John says is true, for every single person you meet or come to know, there really is only one question that really matters. What is their relationship with Jesus? Are we too comfortable with simply helping people--raising money for good causes that are temporal--helping people to become good citizens--feeding and clothing the poor? These are all great things and things that Jesus encouraged and modeled. But, if ultimately, we don't share the truth of salvation, have we really loved our neighbor?
Today, are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and share with those you know the single truth that will make the difference between an eternity with Christ and one without Him? Perhaps you might start with jotting down a list of names that God brings to mind and begin praying for them today. Ask God to let you see the world through His eyes. Remember that none of us deserve God's grace. God's offer of salvation through Jesus is simple and free. Why be shy about sharing the best thing that ever happened in your life? If you won the lottery today, would you keep that news to yourself or begin calling your friends? Go for it and watch God use you to make an eternal difference in someone's life!