Scott Sauls once pointed out that he has never seen someone come to God because they were condemned by a Christian. He has only seen people come to God through the Gospel of Jesus’ love. These verses from John 3 are often considered the perfect expression of that Gospel: God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to die for us, and through faith in Him we have eternal life. This is the Gospel, and it’s beautiful.
A few observations about this passage:
#1 – Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world. He came to save the world. So often, we project an image of a “wrathful,” “angry” God to our culture, and certainly that is a real side of God. He absolutely does get angry. He absolutely will judge this world and punish those deserve His wrath. We shouldn’t try to hide that side of God, but we should highlight His love and compassion. After all, the message of the Gospel is a message of salvation. It’s the story of God’s love, not God’s wrath.
#2 – In fact, notice that, like salvation, condemnation is a matter of belief. John says, 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. In other words, we are ALL condemned after from Jesus. Jesus came to save us from condemnation.
#3 – Jesus brings light into darkness, and we are uncomfortable with that! Darkness is comfortable. I can stay hidden in the dark. No one can see the “real me.” Jesus brings light and exposure . . . and healing. Whether you are a Church-goer or not, light is frightening, and painful, and necessary. Jesus unapologetically shined light in every situation, and eventually the world refused to tolerate it any longer.
“Love” is not a “soft” word. When Jesus commanded the Disciples, “As I have loved you, love one another,” He set a breathtaking standard. Love can be painful! It means bearing someone else’s burden. It means waiting longer than seems fair. It means refusing to give up on someone, even when he has exhausted his chances. It means giving from my life to build your life. And it means doing that daily. There is nothing soft about that. Nothing easy.
We never look more like Jesus than we do when we love sacrificially.