Tuesday, February 18, 2003
For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son so that every one who believes in HIm should not perish but have everlasting life.
ALL great men have had their favourite texts; but this text has been called "everybody's Text." herein for every simple heart is the very essence of the gospel. This text tells us certain very great things.
(i) It tells us that the origin and initiative in all salvation lies with God. Sometimes Christianity is presented in such a way that it sounds as if God had to be pacified, as if God had to be persuatded to forgive. Sometimes men speak as if they would draw a picture of a stern, angry, unfogiving, legal God, and a gentle, loving, forgiving Jesus. Sometimes men present the CHristian message in such a way that it sounds as if Jesus did something which changed the attitude of God to men from condemnation to forgiveness. But this text tells us that it was with God that it all started. It was God who sent His Son, and He sent His Son because He loved men. At the back of everything there is the love of God.
(ii) It tells us that the mainspring of the being of God is love. It is easy to think of God as looking at men in their heedlessness and their disobedience and their rebellion and saying: "I'll break them: I'll humble them and lash them and discipline them and punish them and scourge them until they come back>" It is easy to think of God as seeking the allegiance of men in ofder to satisfy HIs own desire for power, and His own desire for what we might call a completely subject universe. But the tremendous thing about this text is that it shows us God acting, not for His own sake, but for ours. It was not to satisfy His love. God is not like an absolute monarch who treats each man as a subject to be reduced to an abject obedience. God is the Father who cannot be happy until HIs wandering children have come home. God does not smash men into submission; He yearns over them and woos them into love.
(iii) It tells us of the width of the love of God. It was the world that God so loved. It was not a nation; it was not the good people; it was not only the people who loved Him; it was the world. The unlovable and the unlovely, the lonely who have no one lese to love them, the man who loves God and the man who never thinks of God, the man who rests in the love of God and the man who spurns the love of God - All are included in this vast inclusive love, the love of God. As Aufustine had it: "God loves each one of us as if there was only one of us to love."