Recently, the church choir of which I am a member sang the beautiful motette "God So Loved the World" by Bob Chilcott. Yes, my friends, it's a setting of the well-known verse, John 3:16.
The text is set in contemplative phrases that gently rise and fall with a haunting soprano solo over the second half. As we practiced, the leader asked us to sing more quietly.
"Don't push it. Let the text set the dynamics," she directed. "These words are so well-known that we take them for granted."
We followed her instruction, and as the words floated up on the music in our lovely sanctuary, my arms became covered in goose bumps. It was truly what I like to think of as a God moment.
But as I revelled in the beauty of the music and the meaning of the text, I asked myself if these words are as well-known today as they were when I, as a Christian child, was asked to memorize a Bible verse or more each week. My mind wandered back to the year when, in the 1990s, I studied the Bible as literature at McMaster University. Before the professor could teach his course, he had to give a crash course in who the main characters of the Bible were. Otherwise, his course would be void of the rich symbolism that permeates our western literature. A large percentage of the class couldn't differentiate between Noah and Moses.
It is a sad paradox that in this information age, when we have the accessibility and freedom to know the Word, we don't take the time to study it. Though there are more translations in more languages than there ever were, many of us don't take even a few minutes a week to read, not to mention memorize something as basic as John 3:16. While we sit for hours at a computer for work or play, many of us forget to click on an online version of the Bible. When we choose gifts for our grandchildren, do we shy away from purchasing a Christian story book? When a young person is struggling with a problem, do we remind them that prayer is also a way into their problem? We forget or never learn that regardless of our human state, God sacrificed the most precious thing He had for our sake — His Son.
So I ask myself: Will my grandchildren be like my classmates who don't know who John was, let alone what he wrote?
Who will they turn to when they are left to face challenges without knowing that "God so loved the world" that He gave His only begotten Son for their sake?
Should they have to face war or famine like my mother did, would they be able to count on His mercy the way she did in order to survive?
Will the story of Jesus be taken for granted in the hearts of their children?
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, in this time of contemplation and ultimate joy in the celebration of Your Son's resurrection, help us to find the opportunity to share Your story and Your love with young people. Help us to give them the comfort of knowing that our God loves them. Help us to teach them the Word so that they and their children will not take the gospel for granted. We ask this in Jesus' precious name. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Look Ye Saints" (Lyrics)