John 3:1 -17
On March 5th, we will officially enter the season of Lent. As we prepare to begin our Lenten journey, I want us to take a few minutes and look at the words found in John’s Gospel, “for God so loved the world…”
This passage shines like a beacon of a lighthouse upon which the heresies of history have been smashed and sunk.
“For God so loved the world…” stands against all the feeble attempts to narrow and make specific God’s love. Even John faces the temptation to say that God doesn’t love all humanity and history, that God just loves own; those whom Jesus has called out of the world.
The disciples are spoken of as loving Jesus and we are commanded to love one another, but they are never told to love the world. Even John seems a bit tempted to restrict the scope of Christian love to Christ and the church and yet John can’t past this fact that love is the most adequate description of God’s attitude towards the creation.
“For God so loved the world…” – the whole world, all creation. We have compartmentalized life so much in the last decades that most of us think that God loves us and we need to serve Him. But we aren’t very good at thinking what it would mean if God loves the political powers, the corporate structures, natural energies and vast space.
Our failure to understand the whole meaning of “For God so loved the world” has meant that we have not cared for the whole world, of which we were made to be God stewards.
“For God so loved the world…” is a declarative statement, it is a given. God’s love is for all creation. So often that world is spoken as if it were conditional, as if God will love us only if we meet some condition. If you are righteous, God will love you. If you are educated, God will love you. And so on.
The phrase of our defense against thinking that God’s love is some abstract and metaphysical emotion. God is not distant, nor is God unconnected from creation. God loves this creation in time and history. God loves and acts and is involved with this combination of time, space, energy and matter with people and power. God still loves the world and the world continues to be sustained because God’s love in creation sustains it.
“For God so loved the world…”; that love is the reason for God’s continued actions to redeem and restore creation. God in Jesus Christ came to save and redeem. God gave himself in Jesus with the desire and intention to redeem us.
“For God so loved the world…” that he acted in Jesus Christ. For all of us who have felt that love and grace are motivated to the same kind of compassion, know that we are linked in Jesus Christ to God and so we begin to share his love for creation and bring into service the love of our gifts, talents and desires.
Why? For God so loved the world!