Prepare to listen. Read God’s Word with the attitude of a beginner and learner. Hear God’s word to you: I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. (Psalm 32:8)
Read John 3:16-21
16‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’
John 3:16 is, perhaps, the best loved verse in Scripture. From an early age, we drill our children so they can recite it by heart. We even teach them to substitute their name in place of world—‘For God so loved Jackie….’ And it’s true. God loves us personally and individually. But that’s not really what John 3:16 is saying. The world refers to the entire created order, the cosmos. God loves God’s creation—the birds, the flowers, the oceans, the mountains and, of course, the people (all of them including you and me as individuals and as communities). Perhaps the greatest encouragement in this verse is that God, who loves, sends the Son into the world. We’re not expected to figure out a way to reach up to God. The fact that the world has gone awry and deserves condemnation and we can’t do anything about it doesn’t really matter, at least to us. God sent the Son, not to condemn the world God so loves, but to save the world through Jesus. God has come to meet us, where we are, how we are, and he comes with unfathomable love. We can reach out, receive his love, trust his grace, live as redeemed and free children of God, loving the world as God loves it.
What does it mean for you to love the world, the whole world as God loves it?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Sometimes, Lord, all that we can do is thank you. Thank you for loving your world, for loving me; thank you for sending the Son, to bring light into our darkness, love into our hatred, truth into our lies; thank you for coming to us so we can come to you. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world so loved by God.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.