"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that all who believe in him would not die, but would have eternal life." It is an ancient story and it is one that I'm sure you've heard many times before. Even so I'm going to tell it again here because the best stories deserve repeating.
This story in particular deserves repeating because it isn't always clear that God loves us. Often times it can seem that the opposite is the case. When our luck runs out, when tragedy strikes, or when everything seems to be falling apart we can come to believe that God is against us. That God has nothing but evil intentions toward us.
But throughout history God has sent messengers to let people know that he is watching over them and that he is concerned for them. And at just the right moment in history God himself came down to earth and visited us.
He came as a human being so that he could experience everything we experience whether good or bad. He did this to show that he is not unconcerned with our struggles. Indeed God has experienced our struggles and made them his own.
Indeed this man even suffred and died just as mortal men do, to show that God is with us even in the depth of our pain.
And if the story had ended there it would have been a fine story. A tragic tale of a God who really cared for his people. A God who lived among them in good times and in bad times. A God who even went to the grave with them.
But the story does not end there. For the man who was God came back from the dead. By doing this he showed the whole world that humanity has a future. He showed everyone that God is for humanity. That his plan for humanity isn't limited to this mortal life.
His plan for humanity includes teaching people how to love each other. It includes healing our diseases and our infirmities. It includes freeing us from oppression. It includes taking away all of our guilt and our shame and showing us how to live with honor and integrity.
His plan includes an end to war, an end to strife and the beginnings of real peace.
This is the gift that God has offered to everyone, without exception. This is the gift given to everyone who trusts him. This is the good news.
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