Thursday, April 11, 2013

Look carefully

In the last verse of today's reading you can easily overlook an important detail. At first glance it can look as though it divides the world into believers and unbelievers. It would be a simple, logical, parallel construction; believer get eternal life, non-believers—wrath. But that isn't the text. I even checked the Greek. It says:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.

John does separate the world but not into believers and non-believers. He divides it into those who believe and those who disobey. John defines clearly the destiny of only two groups: those who believe and those who willfully choose to act contrary to the will of God.

The "wrath" described here is for those who know the truth and reject it. Once again we arrive at the traditional "three requirements for moral sin: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent(freedom)." The North Korean who has spent his life drowning in misinformation, but "sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience" is not condemned but can share in the salvation won by Christ.

Ultimately, it is like the story of the two sons, one who says yes but doesn't do what he says, and the one who says no, but goes ahead and does what his father asks. It is our actions on which we will ultimately be judged. Many a so-called Christian may by their actions loose the gift, and many a non-Christian may by God's grace receive it.