John 3:16 is one of those verses that many of us will immediately recognize. It was a “go-to” verse for memorizing scripture in Sunday School. Many have used it as the basis for sermons. It’s published on so many evangelism tracts.
We see it referenced in the end zone on signs held up when a football team attempts an extra point of a field goal.
Today, I prefer to use such Biblical translations as the Common English Bible and the NIV. But when I learned this verse, it was in the King James Version.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. — John 3:16 (KJV)
So much could be said about the entire verse, but for now, let’s just concentrate on “for God so loved the world.”
It’s one of the most revolutionary statements that we can ever hear: God loves the world. Every second-, third-, etc., chance that we receive to reset, renew and redeem our lives is rooted in those words. With God’s love for this world, resets would not be possible.
But, let’s be honest. It’s easy to hear a lot of claims to the contrary:
- Humanity is worthless.
- The world is filled with sin and there’s no way we could have value to God.
- There are people born into the world with no chance to ever experience God’s love.
Then, Jesus blows all of that out of the water with a single statement. He says, “For God so loved the world…”
It’s a statement of love and hope from Jesus. And, there are no exceptions here.
Jesus isn’t saying that “For God so loved the righteous, the holy, the people who are perfect, the people who voted for a particular candidate or the ones who hold a particular view.” Jesus is saying, “For God so loved the world.”
Yes, this world. A world that is broken and conflicted. A world that can be frustrating. A world filled with people just like us who desperately need a life reset. Yes, this world.
Get that? God loves this world.
And just to be fair, let me say that it’s not the only place in Scripture that points us to this idea. Here are a couple of examples.
- But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV)
- But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)
- No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39 NIV)
And if God can love this world, then maybe I can come to realization that I’m not better or more privileged than God. God loves all the people I love and he also loves all of the people I struggle to even like, much less love. If God can love, then I can probably be a lot more loving too.
And it goes a step further when it comes to the chance for our own resets and life changes. God loves the world and the people in it. I’m in that world and that means God loves me. God loves me even when I struggle to love myself.
“For God so loved the world” — and I have no choice to see it any other way.
Also, you might like to read another recent post from the site. It’s about holding on to faith in some of the tough time. You can read it here.