One of the most oft-quoted passages of scripture is John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

But I wonder how regularly any of us actually think about the miraculous and magnificent truth resident in that verse—i.e., the sovereign God of the universe, the Creator of all that exists, the very embodiment of goodness itself, the living standard of righteousness & justice LOVES US!

god_loves

If we were to ever to actually dwell for an extended moment on that reality, I think we might start living differently. We might start seeing ourselves and others differently. We might start interacting with the world differently—and getting our priorities straight.

Most obviously, we'd would love far more than we do, and hate much less (Matt. 22:39). We'd try to see the good/positive in things and people, instead of always searching for the negative (see Phil. 4:8). We'd prefer to be lights in this dark world (Matt. 5:14), rather than adding to the darkness via our own subjective/arrogant judgments against others (i.e., self-righteous judgments not actually rooted and grounded in God's Word or in HIS righteousness). We'd speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15)—not mockingly, hatefully, or coldly.

peace

But it seems that in this day and age—with so much negativity, fear, faithlessness, and culture conflict on so many fronts—too many Christians have forgotten one of greatest truths that can keep us sane in a world gone mad: God loves us.

And to really make that point clear to us, God went so far as to even tell us just HOW MUCH he loves us. In Christ's prayer to the Father toward the end of his ministry he declared: "...you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (Jn. 17:23, NIV).

What? Is that even possible? Can it be? Am I actually reading what I think I'm reading? The New Living Translation puts it this way: "...you [God the Father] love them [believers] as much as you love me."

It is no surprise, given this degree of love God has for us, that John would write in First John 3:1: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!"

In light of so great a love for us, let us walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), having the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:14-16; Phil. 2:5), who died for us on the cross, thereby paying the debt we owed for our sins. Now THAT is love: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (Jn. 15:13).

christ

In closing, as a meditation and point of soul-searching, I offer this poignant and insightful engraving, which can be found on the wall of a German cathedral:

THUS speaketh Christ our Lord to us,
"You call me Master, and obey me not;
You call me light, and see me not;
You call me the Way, and walk me not;
You call me life, and live me not;
You call me wise, and follow me not;
You call me fair, and love me not; You call me rich and ask me not;
You call me eternal, and seek me not;
If I condemn you; blame me not.

As the New Believer's Bible: New Testament observes: "The more we learn about what God has done for us, the more we will want to know about how to live for him.Our motives will come from a pure heart, not selfish ambition. God is looking for genuine believers whose walk matches their talk. Are you one?" (p. 10). "On the last day many people will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, we spoke for you, and through you we forced out demons and did many miracles.' Then I will tell them clearly, 'Get away from me, you who do evil. I never knew you.'" (Matt. 7:22-24, NCV).

peace in him,

Richard Abanes

PoP CulTUrE MiX