Thusly Loved | John 3.16-21
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:16-21 | ESV
You see, this is how God has loved this world: his Son, his One and Only Unique Son – God gave him, surrendered him. And why? So that everyone who puts their trust in him experiences life to the max forever and doesn’t end up in the garbage heap of time and eternity. God didn’t send his Son into this world as a harbinger of death and judgment on the world. No way. The point was to save the world through him. The one who leans hard into him from the heart has no upcoming court date to dread, while the one who callously, carelessly does the flyby on the Son – the Unique, Only Son – judging him not worth the time of day, has already had the verdict pronounced over himself without him even realizing it. And here’s the verdict: Light has dawned in this dark world, and people were more enamored with the darkness than they were with the light because their lives were brimming with dark deeds. People brimming with dark deeds hate being in the spotlight and make a habit of avoiding it at all costs. The last thing they want is to call attention to their dark passengers. Ah, but the one brimming with truth has no aversion to the light whatsoever. She naturally, unpretentiously seeks it out. And so, in due time, everyone figures out that God is the one who has stored up that treasure of light in her. MAV
It’s a verse that finds its way into most every modern sporting event. John 3:16. “For God so loved the world…” I used to always read that, “God sooooooooo loved the world…” But it’s not degree that John emphasizes here. It’s manner and method. “Thusly God loved,” says John. This is how. It plays off his expressed emphasis later in his first letter to believers: “Beloved, let us not love in word or with the tongue, but in deed and in truth (reality).” We love to talk about love, sing about love, extol the virtues of love…we love doing anything but love itself. Love has feet. It has hands. It has heart. The challenge for us is to close that gap between the profession and our actual practice of it. And God doesn’t just show us how it’s done. His radical act of love is the catalyst for love on every level within us and within our world. We love because he first loved us. God so loved that he gave. We so love that we give ourselves. God so loved that he sent his Son not as a harbinger of death and destruction, but as the means of Life, so we step out in this world not as naysayers of doom, but as sons and daughters of hope. God so loved that he has caused the Light to dawn in the face of Jesus, so we become light-bearers brimming with truth that needs little explanation – only natural, unpretentious, exposure in a dark world desperate for a ray of hope. God so loved. We so love. And in a word, this is the Good News. Anything else, no matter how carefully crafted with knowledge and Scripture quotations, is groping in the dark.
In what practical ways would his love lead and empower you to love today?
Abba, let me experience your love for me, for this world, anew. Rekindle the fire of your love in my heart – a long, slow, undying burning of love that consumes the stubble of all my bitterness, clamor, contention, pride and conceit. Let my life brim over with the truth of your love and light in such clear, undeniable measure that no words are needed from me to explain it or you, for all will see you in it, in me. Through Christ.
For all of this week’s small group resources including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.