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What Does "for God So Love the World" Mean Anyway?

Imagine that a couple is out camping with their five children. No, I don’t know why they’re camping either. My feeling is if God had intended for people to sleep in tents, He wouldn’t have invented houses. And let’s not even talk about the outhouses at a campsite…but I digress.

Back to our couple camping with their five children. The father wakes up in the middle of the night because he thinks he hears a noise. Looking around, he notices that all the kids’ sleeping bags are empty.

He opens the tent and sees the smoldering campfire, but there is no sign of his children. Getting worried, he wakes up his wife, but she doesn’t know where they could be.

On the verge of panic, the two of them hurriedly grab some flashlights and begin searching the woods, shouting out in the darkness for their lost children. After what seems like forever, the sun begins to pull itself above the horizon and dawn begins to break, but still there is no sign of the kids.

The mother, in desperation, runs back to the tent to call 911 on her cell phone. While she’s dialing, though, Dad comes running back with one of the children and motions for her to hang up. “Don’t worry honey, I found one! Don’t bother the police. One kid is good enough. Let’s just pack up and leave.”

The wife protests, “Pack up and leave!? We should at least find one more. I’m not leaving until we’ve found two of our five children!”

A few minutes later, another child is found happily playing with coyotes and poison ivy. Rejoicing, these jubilant parents grab their gear, put their two children in the car, and head home stopping for ice-cream on the way.

Could such a story ever be true? Would this couple ever settle for just two out of five children? Would they actually leave three children lost in the woods? If we don’t think a human couple would do that with their children, what makes us think that God would want to do that with His?

Most likely, these parents would not rest, would not sleep, and would not stop searching until all their children were found.

God is the same way. He is not satisfied with small percentages and handfuls of salvations. He would not have us stop until the whole world is changed.

In Luke 19:10, Jesus told all those gathered at Zacchaeus’ house, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

To those gathered at Nicodemus’ home, Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

Robert Coleman, author of such best-selling books as The Master Plan of Evangelism, talks about the first town in which he pastored. It was a small rural town, and Coleman soon discovered that when someone died in this small town, a church would ring its bells. People would then come from all over town to that church in order to find out who had died.

Well, early one morning, Coleman began to ring his church’s bells, and soon people started showing up to find out who had died. They came into the church to find an open casket. The new pastor motioned for them to look inside. Yet there was no person inside the casket only a mirror. When the people saw their reflection in that mirror, he would tell them, “You are dead in your sins! You need Christ to save you.”

Coleman rang the bell most of the morning and dozens of people showed up. Then the police came. “You can’t ring the bells unless someone has died,” they informed. But Coleman kept right on ringing the bell. He was willing to do whatever it took to reach people for Christ, because he understood that everyone needs Jesus.

All need Jesus to shelter them when the storms of life blow. All need Jesus to hold them when the trials and tribulations coming raging. All need Jesus to be their rock when tragedies strike. All need Jesus when it seems hope is gone.

What are you doing to get these people, all these people, to Jesus?

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