February 12, 2024

As we read through the Bible this year, I am reminded of my childhood Sunday School classes. Each week, we were encouraged to read and memorize scripture. By doing so, we would earn prizes determined by the number of chapters we read or the number of verses we memorized. The idea was good I remember reading and memorizing verses.

When I heard we were focusing on John 3:16-17 this Lenten season and how Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world but to save the world through Him, I was immediately taken back to the Sunday School class. These were some of the verses we memorized. I remember focusing on John 3:16 and how Jesus came to save the world.

Growing up as a preacher’s kid in a Pentecostal church, I felt like I was constantly being watched, examined, and expected to be perfect, which is something that I was unable to do. We talked about God’s saving grace, but even though we were taught about grace, I didn’t feel like we lived in grace. We were taught forgiveness for sin, but even with the forgiveness, there was still a sense of condemnation because we sinned.

It wasn’t until later in my teens and beyond that I understood how God’s grace was not just a form of forgiveness, but Christ was saving me from my own condemnation. He came to save me from the overwhelming burden of guilt and shame that comes with being human. He came to give me a new life free from condemnation and filled with grace.

This realization was transformative for me. Instead of constantly striving for perfection and feeling like I would never measure up, I learned to lean on God’s grace and mercy. John 3:16-17 reminds me of the depth of God’s love and the sacrifice He made for us through His son Jesus. It is a reminder that we are not meant to live in condemnation but instead embrace the saving grace of Christ. Let us embrace this grace and share it with others who may also be feeling burdened by their own condemnation.

Brent Manning, Director of Communications