Christ died “not for our sins only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). This is something which we, in the church, must never forget.
When we are tempted to shut out ‘the big, bad world’, we must remember – Christ died “not for our sins only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
In this world, we face many temptations.Not all of these temptations come from the world out there, the world outside of these four walls. There are some temptations that come to us precisely because we have stepped into the place of worship, precisely because we have chosen to worship God.
Jesus was very aware of the dangers that face religious people, especially those who are very religious. The more religious we are, the more we are tempted to take pride in ourselves, in our own religion. Jesus was a storyteller. He told stories. They were stories with a difference, stories with a message, stories full of spiritual truth. One of his stories was the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. It is a story about two men – two men who went to the temple to pray. One of them – the Pharisee – was very religious, and didn’t he know it? He was full of himself. The other man – the tax collector – was a worldly man, deeply involved in the affairs of the world.
Why does Jesus tell us about these two men?
Luke makes it quite clear why Jesus tells this story – “He … told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others” (Luke 18:9).
What was Jesus saying to them? What is he saying to us? – Don’t trust in yourselves! Don’t despise others! We could put that more positively – Trust in Jesus Christ, your Saviour. Love others with the love of Christ.
How are we to trust in Jesus Christ? How are we to love others with the love of Christ?
* Do you want to learn to trust Christ? – Then, remember this – Christ died for your sins.
* Do yo want to learn to love others? Then, remember this – Christ died not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Whenever you have two groups of people – one group, religious, like the Pharisee; the other group, worldly, like the tax collector, there is always the danger of a proud ‘us and them’ attitude, creeping in and distorting our whole outlook.
We take pride in ourselves. we become far too conscious of our own religion and our own morality. We look down upon others. We see a great difference ‘us and them.’
This kind of thinking is very dangerous. Whenever we start thinking like this, it becomes difficult for us to hear what Christ is saying to us.
What is Jesus saying to us? – To hear his voice, we must come to the cross, At the cross, we learn about ourselves, and we learn about others.
– We look at ourselves, and we say, “I am the sinner for whom Christ died.”
– We look at others, and we say, “They are the sinners for whom Christ died.”
We do not say, “I am the sinner for whom Christ died” and, then, forget about the world out there.
We do not say, “They are the sinners for whom Christ died”, and, then, imagine that we, religious people, are not really sinners, that we religious people do not really need to trust the Saviour.
Perhaps, you are asking, “Is there no difference between the church and the world? Yes. There is a difference, but it’s not a difference which gives the church any reason for becoming proud and arrogant. we dare not become like the Pharisee – “I am not like other men” (Luke 18:11).
What, then, is the difference between the church and the world?
* It is a difference which is grounded in God’s mercy – “Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10.
* It is a difference which calls us to be Christ’s witnesses in the world – “You are … God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
We are to be Christ’s witnesses in the world. This is something we must not forget when we gather together for worship. Our worship concerns the world. Can we forget the world, when the Bible tells us that Christ died “not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
We belong to the community of faith. We also belong to a wider community – local, national, international. Our praise, our prayer, our preaching – they are all directed toward the world.
(1) We praise God in this place, but God is concerned with something much bigger. Here are some Bible verses which emphasize the mighty work of God is seeking to do when his people praise him.
(a) “O God … your praises reach to the ends of the earth” (Psalm 48:10). This is God’s purpose.
(b) “He establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:7). God fulfils his purpose through his people.
(c) “He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky” (Deuteronomy 10:21-22). The increase of his people – this is the purpose of God.

   (d) “It is written:‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God’” (Romans 14:11). As we offer our praise to God, we must remember this; “Christ died not for our sins but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
(2) What are we doing when we pray? Are we just looking for a good feeling? No! There is much more than that. We are to pray for others. We are to pray for the world. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
Prayer, which is self-centred, is shallow and superficial. Prayer for others is an integral part of mature prayer. Why, in our praying, are we so preoccupied  with ourselves and have so little interest in others. a preoccupation with ourselves is a sign of childishness. It is something which we must grow out of as we grow in Christ. We must learn to say, with John the Baptist, “Christ must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). As Christ grows in us, as he increases in our lives, there will be a greater commitment to praying for others, praying for the world, for which Christ died.
(3) What is happening when the Word of God is preached? Is this preaching addressed only to the church, those who have gathered to hear it? No! It is also addressed to the wider community. It is addressed to the local community, the nation, the international situation.
How can the Word , which is heard by a small number of people, affect the wider community?
   (a) When the Word of God changes us, it changes the way we live in the local community.
   (b) When the Word of God teaches the individual, it creates a concern for the nation. 
   (c) When the Word of God reaches our hearts, it creates in us the heart of a missionary, one who longs for Christ to be known by people of every nation.
What we are talking about now is sharing. We are to be a sharing people. An excellent model of sharing is found in Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan. In this parable, the are three very different ways of thinking and living.
  (i) The attitude of the thieves – “What’s yours is mine. I’ll take it.”
  (ii) The attitude of the priest and the Levite – “What’s mine is mine. I’ll keep it.”
  (iii) The attitude of the good Samaritan – “What’s mine is yours. I’ll give it.”
We are to share, never forgetting that Christ died “not for our sins but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).