THE BEST PART
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever…”
My favorite part in this tiny passage is just one little word: whoever. I would totally understand if God gave Jesus for just the good people, or the Christians, but that’s not what this verse says. This verse says that God gave Jesus, the most precious thing He could ever give, to whoever, whoever believes in Him, whoever should come to Him, whoever. There’s no long list of prerequisites or qualifications. God freely extends Jesus to whoever will take Him. Think about this for a moment.
Now I love to cook for people even though it’s a lot of work. I have to plan out a dinner and buy the groceries, which requires both time and money. I have to prepare the dinner which is also time consuming. I like everything to be just right so it takes quite a bit of work to prepare dinner for a group as small as four. I have a particular set of plates that I spent quite a bit of money on from Crate and Barrel. I only take these plates out when I’m having a dinner party. Otherwise they are stowed away safely on my closet shelf, separated by sheets of paper towels so they will not be damaged in any way. When guests offer to clean up afterwards I always turn them down, not because I don’t want their help, but because I just don’t trust anyone with my plates! They were expensive. As you can probably figure out I am very particular about who I invite. I can’t take those plates out for just anyone. I would never go through all the trouble of preparing a dinner, take out my nice plates and just throw the living room door open and invite whoever happened to be walking by. But that’s exactly what God did when He gave the world Jesus. He threw his doors wide open and invited whoever to attend.
God loves the whoevers of the world, the ones who are nameless to us, the ones without titles, offices, status or prestige. You’ll never see them on the cover of any magazine. They’ll never make the six o’clock news. You’ll never see them on TV, but God loves them just the same. God loves the nameless who are ignored by the world: the poor, the sick, the oppressed, the uneducated, the homeless, the ones we don’t care to be associated with. God extends Jesus to these people and to whoever else will accept his offer.
Now that we have been introduced to the truths of John 3:16 there is only one thing left for us to do: live it out. John 3:16 is not just a verse to be memorized and then tucked away in a remote corner of our brains, but a verse to be thoroughly understood, solidly grasped and lived out fully to the best of our abilities. God created us in his image so that we would be like God, and resemble God (Genesis 1:26-27). All that God is we were created to strive to be. We cannot be God, but every believer should aspire to be like God: Loving, merciful, giving, compassionate, just. If you are in any way amazed by God’s inexhaustible capacity to love the world, the entire world, then strive to love the world yourself. It is not enough to love your family: the soldiers of Nazi Germany loved their families as well. It is not enough to love your friends. God loves the world. Will you be bold enough to love others outside your circle? Will you take the initiative to expand your circle of friends and loved ones to include more of the world that God loves?
God demonstrates his love through action and we are given the privilege of doing the same. There is a whole world out there that is in desperate need of God’s love, and the only way they can experience God’s love through us, is through our actions. They cannot see God through our thoughts. They cannot see God through our good intentions. They will not come to experience the love of God through our prayers, as grand as they might be. The only way the world will see God in us is through our actions, simple every day acts of loving-kindness. Every day someone is need of experiencing God’s love through us, the ones who call ourselves by his name. Every day is an opportunity for us to show someone the love of God. Let us not waste a single day; it might make all the difference to a soul in need.
God is a giver and is always giving. Let us align ourselves with God and become givers ourselves. When God gave us Jesus, He gave us the most precious thing He could ever give. What is most precious to you? Think about it. What is it that you hold most dear? Is it your time, your circle of friends, your resources, your comfort zone? The one thing you cherish the most might just be the exact thing God wants to use to show his love to others. Will you trust God with what you cherish? Will you place it in is hands if He asks you to? Will you give up the very things you have a right to, the things you’ve worked hard for, the things you’ve earned for the sake of someone experiencing the love of God, for the whoevers of your world?
I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you as you endeavor to answer these questions. I invite you to wrestle with this tiny passage of Scripture. Let it make you uncomfortable; you’ll be okay. I pray that you stand in awe of God’s love and devote the rest of your life to showing the same love God has shown to you to a world desperately in need of such love. Live out this tiny passage today and every day you are blessed to experience.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Following the Way,