“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Growing up my great grandmother had this verse in her living room, which means I saw it and read it every single day. It is most probably the first verse of the bible I ever knew. Followed closely by the Lord’s Prayer.
It dawned on me only a few days ago that I knew this verse by heart, you could wake me up from a deep sleep and I would tell it to you, it’s that engraved in me. Sadly, that’s all it is, repetition of what I read, I knew the verse and I knew what it said but I never really understood what it means.
It’s a bit unsettling to think the answer to all my questions, problems and heartaches that I been through has always been there, but isn’t that the truth about our God, He is always there with us whether we see it or not.
Going back to the verse, as I read it again now, I see 4 things, four important concept that sums up Life in Christ;
1. God first loved us – for a long time I felt that I had to be deserving of love, I needed to be somebody first, I needed to do right and act right first and then maybe I will earn God love. I know I’m not the only person to believe this, I know I’m not the only one who’s ever thought that if only I could get right with God I will receive his love.
The message of Christ and the word of God says God loved the world, while we were sinners he loved us, while we were still out making our own paths, finding idols in material things and trying to do it all ourselves he simply Loved us.
2. Because he loved he Gave…
God’s love is not idle, he didn’t just love us and then look the other way because we were not good enough. He didn’t feel this love and say oh well, she’s gone off on her own I guess I will give it to someone else.
His love for us triggered a desire to give, it birthed action, unconditional flow of love from him to us. And he gave not just any gift
….his only son. He gave that which he hold dearer to all things. He gave that which is perfect, blameless, and free of sin. If you read the bible at all you know that God is the father, the son and the Holy Spirit, so what does that mean? God didn’t just give us something he holds dear, God loved us so much he gave himself…
let that sink in.
3. So that we believe in him..
All God wants from us is to believe in him, the verse says …whosoever believes in him(son) will have eternal life. Our salvation rests solely on our belief. It’s not about what we do, what we say, what we want or who we are. All God wants is for you to believe.
Reading through the Old Testament I began to understand how God related to his people like a parent to a child. Most parents or anyone who has ever been around small children can appreciate the frustration of talking to a child and yet they don’t listen, they hear they just don’t listen….
Most parenting books written tell you, the best way to get a child to listen is to go down to their level and speak to them on their level. So, God, the first parent to ever exist, with love, came down to our level in the form of Christ, related to us in human form spoke to us and all he wanted was for us to listen and believe in him, and then we would be saved.
4. model for our lives and relationships with others…
As I grow up I’m learning more and more about the power of belief. The starting point of everything in your life is what you believe in.
Everything you do or say in life is strongly aligned with what you believe. If you believe that you only live once, you can do whatever you want and your sole purpose is to enjoy life as much as you can before you die, every decision in your life will come down to ‘how much fun will that bring me’
If you believe in God, that Jesus died on the cross for you, then every decision in your life will come down to ‘how much will this exalt him’
As Christians every day we strive to be Christ-like, God loved us so we need to love others, more importantly the verse and the message of the Gospel says, God loved the world, not just believers, not just the righteous, he loved the world… so he gave his only son, therefore we need to give the world the gift of Christ, we need to give the world the gift of love.. and in doing so they will believe in him, in Christ, in God and in love and they shall be saved and they themselves be open to receiving God and love…and so the cycle continues.
…and that is why you can never go wrong with Love, after all God is love.