God loved the world, so much. So much that He shared Jesus with us, His one and only Son. So much that He put the offer of eternal life on the table for “whosoever” believes.
We’re talking about agape-level love here—of the most faithful, most patient, most compassionate, most forgiving, most gracious, most unexpected, and most undeserved sort. Everything about God is right, pure, good, holy, and true; everything about me, isn’t.
And that’s really why His love is such a shock. He didn’t love me because I earned it, deserved it, paid for it, or found it. He loved me while I was still a sinner! God in heaven, the Almighty Creator, loved a “wretch like me” enough to extend His amazing, eternal grace!
Whenever I’m speaking about the gospel, I find myself moving into this familiar territory, John 3:16 and Romans 5:7-11. It is here, in these verses, that the essence of the greatest news in history can be found—news about the love of God, offered, extended, made known, revealed to a world so blind that it couldn’t even recognize Jesus when He walked among them.
But there is more we need to reflect on about the love of God than simply receiving it, or understanding it. It’s not enough that we say “yes” to God’s demonstrations of lovingkindness, learn theology textbook definitions about grace, or even thank Him for His mercy.
God wants us to experience His love at such a deep level that we begin to share it with others. It should overflow from our lives as a fruit of His Spirit. God’s design is that His rich, abundant, dramatic, compassionate love would flow to me, and then through me!
Such a pass-forward of divine love is actually important evidence that my faith is authentic. If I’m not overflowing God’s love toward others, I have little more than ritual religion. John wrote this in the most obvious of terms:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay our down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1 John 3:16-17).
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8).
Of course, those verses pertain directly to loving our fellow believers in Christ. But as a next step, I’m going to suggest something radical—something I see in the life of Jesus, and something I read in the biographies of so many Christians who have lived the kind of life He died to provide.
I’m going to suggest that we love the world, like God did, as John 3:16 describes. So much.
Really? Even when it doesn’t love me back? How would we even begin?
The best way to learn is to observe the Master, and imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1-2). He looked people in the eyes and saw their deepest need (John 4). He was patient and direct with those slow to understand (John 3). He befriended the outcasts and sinners (Luke 15). He did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Then, He went to the cross.
As His representative, His follower, can I love the world like that? The broken and beaten I pass by on the road? Those I find hard to get along with? Those who have hurt me? Those I don’t even know?
God’s love led Him to share Good News with a world in need. It should compel you and me to do the same.
>> I originally wrote this piece for Revive Magazine, as a part of a whole issue regarding God’s love.