John 3:16 is possibly the most familiar verse in the Bible.
For God so loved the
world that her gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall
not perish but have eternal life.
It is a simple statement of our faith, our hope.
We memorize it as children.
We see it held aloft at football games and on the sidelines of races. Even those who don’t share our faith know
something of what it means, or what it means to us.
It is basic, fundamental to who we are as believers.
The next verse is much less well known but makes clearer the
meaning of its more well known predecessor.
For God did not send
his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
A statement clarifying the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection
lest we get confused once we have been the recipients of his amazing
grace. He came not to accuse and
sentence but make whole and bring home the lost.
But did you know there is another John 3:16 that speak just
as fundamentally to who we are as Christ followers?
It’s in 1 John and it
echoes John 3:16.
This is how we know
what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down
our lives for our brothers and sisters.
Not to be hating on John 3:16 or anything but I kind of wish
we would all start memorizing this one (if not instead in addition to) it’s
more famous counterpart.
Because what Christ did for us is the essence of love. It reminds us how deeply we are loved and
from the gracious security of this love we are free. Free to live and be who we were created to
be. Free to love as recklessly as he
loved us. Even unto death.
And like the other 3:16 this one is followed by a verse that
makes its meaning and purpose clearer.
If anyone has material
possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how
can the love of God be in that person?
This explains the love.
That love that would lay down its life.
That love that took Jesus to the cross, to make a way for us to be whole
again calls us to make others whole again in every way we can. If we have the means, the physical means to
bring wholeness – to fill a hungry belly, to clothe a naked body, to hold an
empty hand, to free a wrongfully imprisoned – and we do not, how can we say the
love of God, a love that would not stop until it had given itself up to a
horrible and tortuous death, is in us?
How can we claim a love that would lay down its life when we will not
even lay down our wallets, our fancy cars, our second homes, our comfort and
Maybe this is why we do not put this verse on signs and
memorize it with as much alacrity.
It challenges our
idea of God’s love. Who is it for? Me or the world?
God loves you. He
died for you. But it does not end
there. In both John verses God is
clear. He came to save the WORLD and we
are to lay down our lives and our possessions for that world in
need. His love was made manifest on the cross. Ours is to be made manifest everyday as we
choose to follow him in loving those he has put in our lives with ALL of the resources
he has graciously given us.