“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” – John 3:16-21
This very familiar passage from John’s Gospel describes God’s love: it’s extent, place, and purpose; it’s source, intent, and result, and it’s appeal, benefit, and recipients. Consider the extent of God’s love, “For God so loved the world…” Love is not an accessory of God’s character and being. It’s not as if God’s love is offered as an afterthought, or seen only occasionally. God loved the world so much that he gave his only son.
Consider, too, the place from which this love comes. Love comes from the heart of God, it is not only part of his being, he is the source of love. For that reason God’s intent in giving his Son to the world, was not to condemn, judge, mock us or set us up. His intent was to save us. The result, therefore of God’s love was and is that whoever believes in God’s gift of love, his Son, will not perish but have eternal life.
The result of God’s gift is salvation. But the appeal of God’s love is not to those who do evil. Those who live in darkness of sin, whose deeds are evil, who hate the light of God’s truth, cannot see God’s love as being good. They see it only as an intrusion. They dismiss it as meddlesome and confining, not freeing.
We who know God’s love to be good, and who prize God’s gift as most valuable also recognize that all this is God’s work – from loving us, to sending his Son, to moving our hearts away from self-absorbed evil to deeply grateful worship. From darkness and death to light and life.
God has called us, converted us, and not invites us to walk as a child of the light.