The word for this week is 'UNLESS'.
It is a word that is used more than you might think in our conversations. The word may be used as a conjunction to communicate the term 'except if', which can sound a bit awkward in a sentence. The word 'unless' is a conditional term. Something is required. Example being--"Unless I hear from you, I will expect to see you on Thursday."
The word 'unless' is used several times in scripture to communicate the need for a response from God. One of the more important being the occasion when Nicodemus, a devout religious man came to Jesus under cover of darkness inquiring about eternal life. He was a good man that wasn't good enough and 'the stirring' in his soul brought him to Jesus. Jesus said to 'Nic'--"Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)
There are many who confuse the unconditional love of God with the conditional response of faith. Many have been misled in thinking that because God loves me and desires only the very best for me, why would He ever permit anything less to impact my life, personally?
It is true that God desires the very best for everyone and has designed a way for us to experience that in this life. BUT it's conditional. It doesn't just occur because we exist. Every person has the responsibility to respond to God's unconditional love through faith in what God promises to provide. Faith is the conditional response.
Nicodemus was confused by that because he was a good moral person. He had made it a practice to NOT be involved in the things that the law of God prohibited. But what 'Nic' didn't see in his life initially was the need for repentance. He couldn't see that it was not how good he was OR had been in the past. The issue for him and all of us is 'how good we're not'.
On our best day, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) And that is on our best day, when we think we've hit it out of the park! But faith in God's promise to love and never leave us applies on our best days AND our worst days, as well. The faith that responds to God's love and grace applies His forgiveness and mercy to ALL our days and ALL our sin.
'Unless' one is born again, he/she cannot see the kingdom of God.
'Unless' a person exercises faith, that person can expect to experience total separation from God and all that is good for longer than any human being can imagine. And yet, God made a way!
Jesus said, 'Unless' you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3) 'Unless' you and I turn from sin and toward Jesus to save us from the penalty of sin in the accepted time--(today)--, there is no way we will ever see heaven, much less live there.
God will not expect to see us, 'unless' He hears the prayer of repentance from us.
It's imperative that we get that! It's important that we share that!
'Unless' we first get it and 'unless' we then go with it--how will they hear that God indeed cares enough to send the VERY BEST TO ALL who call upon the name of the Lord for salvation?
May the Lord remind us of the urgency of the hour that is too soon passing away.
1 Corinthians 15:58