Religions are often identified with certain people groups. They are limited, mostly, to certain regions of the world. They make up a part of the culture of those groups. They do not always welcome outsiders. There are a few so-called world religions, but most of these are also limited.
Jesus died as the “atoning sacrifice” sent by God, “not only for our sins but also for the whole world” 1 John 2.1-2. This is a staggering affirmation. The apostle John writes it in the context of the need of a group of Christians to have a sacrifice for their sins and to be forgiven even after their conversion. It implies several things.
One, God loves and wants to forgive everyone. We do not have a regional God nor a religion restricted to a select group. He created all people and offers forgiveness on the same basis, through faith and obedience. We all get in by the same door, by being immersed into Christ.
Two, every single person in this world is just as precious in God’s sight as I am. I may think that others of certain groups are weird, strange, different, or inferior. God doesn’t. He values both beggar and billionaire, both the super successful and the twenty-something still living with mom and dad. The children’s song hits the right note, applied to children and grown-ups: “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.”
Three, God has put me in this world to tell the news about Jesus and how he forgives sins. Was John reminding his readers that, since they were saved, they needed to be about the task of saving others? Whatever his point at mentioning that Jesus is the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, the truth cannot but raise all eyes to the ripe fields to be reaped for salvation.
Four, it tells us the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice for sin. How could our Lord not shrink from the cross, in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he thought of the task before him? Jesus went willingly to the cross. He came with this mission in mind. His suffering was severe, especially in his soul. There are those who say that Jesus would have died had I been the only human in need, and they are right, but they miss the point. The point is that I am not the only human in need; it was the sins of the whole world that made him bleed.
That Jesus died for the sins of the whole world is motivation not to sin. And it is our joy when we do sin. As well our reminder that we have the solution for sin, not only for ours, but also for the whole world.
How about we tell them?