The verse everybody knows

January 26, 2011

I don’t know if there is a thing that can be added to what has been said about John 3:16, but I couldn’t possibly do a wander through John without at least stopping at the most memorized verse in the Bible

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.

For me, the blessing of this verse comes when I realized that God not only loves “the world” but that he loves the people of the world.  Even more significant is that he loves us individually, one at a time.  I can understand God loving his creation, but at the time I discovered this verse I could think of no reason in the world that he would love me. At the time I wasn’t sure my own parents did.   I have since learned that most adolescents doubt whether anyone loves them, including God.

But once that piece of information sunk in; that God was a personal God, One who really cared about his creation, everything fell into place.  No, my life in Jr. High didn’t get any better, neither did High School, I’m still a geek today, you should have seen me when I was truly clumsy and awkward.  But I got through it because I knew I was loved.

A really big lesson from John 3:16 came later.  OK, not as big as salvation, but big nonetheless.  If God loves the world, (and he does) and he wants me to obey him, (and he does) and he wants me to be like Christ, (and he does) then ought not I also love the world?  It was about that time I began to look at the lost as prisoners of war not enemy combatants.  It’s then when I started to see the agony in the addict rather than the drunk.  It’s then I saw the misery in the misogyny,  the ache in the adultery, the loss in the liar.

No I didn’t become like them, but I slowly started to love them.  And slowly accepted the love of God.

My life really started to change when I began reading John 3:16 like this:  God loved Tim so much that he sent his one and only Son, so if Tim believes in Him the he will never die, but have eternal life.

Once we could put our name into that passage, then we can put anybody’s name in there, and the we will never look at someone trapped in sin the same way again.  Ever.

John 3:16 is almost looked at as if it were an overused catchphrase for Christianity by many, even among believers.  But when we put our name in the verse, then put in the name of those for whom we ache, then we can see the hope of the gospel.  When we understand how much God loves us and cares about us, we can do no less as his beloved children.

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