Filters are a necessary part of our world. Cars and trucks typically have three; air, oil, and fuel. There’s an air filter on the furnace/air conditioner. There are screens on the windows to allow fresh air but keep out insects. Coffee and tea are often brewed through a filter. And while faith in Christ does act as a filter with a narrow gate and wide gate. The fuller truth found in John 3:16 is that faith is open to everyone.
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16–17, NASB95)
Whoever. Whosoever. Everyone. Jesus used an inclusive, unfiltered word to describe those invited to eternal life. No qualifications or prerequisites to the invitation. No disqualifying sins or attributes like race, language, or culture. Everyone is welcome to believe in Christ – even your worst enemy.
Jesus may not offer qualifiers, but we often do. How often do we disqualify someone from hearing the Good News based on how they look, the lifestyle they have, or their apparent sin, or because we fear they will accept Christ. We may not say it or even think it, but we often determine who is and isn’t worthy. And sometimes, we just fear their rejection.
The invitation of Jesus to the world is unfiltered. The offer is for anyone and everyone. That doesn’t mean that all will accept the invitation; that is their choice. Even if they reject Jesus’ invitation today, our job is to keep loving and keep praying and keep preaching the good news in our actions and words. Their story is not finished yet.
We must also overcome the temptation of adding requirements to the Gospel. Jesus only provided one absolute requirement – that we believe in Him. As Paul put it, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9, NASB95) We often expect someone to believe in Jesus AND adopt our religious and ethical culture as proof of faith. The requirement is that they believe and trust in Jesus, not that they accept our religious style.
Unfiltered doesn’t mean unwise. Yes, we need to speak the Good News. But often, we need to do the Good News long before we tell the Good News. Rule of Thumb: People are not berated into the Kingdom of God; they are wooed and invited in. This is not original, but it is freeing – present the Good News to all; if necessary, use words. Doing good for others “preaches” in ways that mere words cannot.
Let’s be unfiltered as we invite others to the Good News through our words and actions. Love all. Whether they choose to believe or not. Whether they “deserve it” or seem worthy or not. Even if they’ve rejected in the past, or we count them as our enemy, or they are hostile to faith in Christ. They are still a “whoever” that God loves.