Mark from Facebook was lamenting his church’s overly simple “Remember, God loves everyone” billboard. It is true in a sense, of course. As Marie noted there, Jesus loved the rich young ruler who walked away and He commanded us to love our enemies.
A former church of ours had the “God loves you unconditionally” message preached nearly every week and posted on a local billboard. While it was true in a particular sense, they never finished the sentence: “And He’ll unconditionally send you to Hell for eternity if you don’t repent and believe.”
My guess is that many people read the message on the billboard and thought, “That’s great — I don’t have to change a thing and don’t even have a reason to go to their church. I’ve heard all I need from the experts.”
Eternity is a mighty long time to hold bad theology. Another good Facebook find this morning was a link our pastor posted: My Take: Stop sugar-coating the Bible. That was surprisingly good for CNN. Too many people don’t realize that by editing the word they are making a god in their own image and not seeking the real God.
Do I like to share the truth of God’s love? Absolutely! But we must be careful not to distill it down so far that it loses its real meaning.
Remember that even the oft-misused John 3:16 notes that without believing in Jesus people will perish eternally, and the following verses make it even more clear.
16 “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.