God loved this cruel world so much (John 3:16)

John 3:16

John 3:16 contains some of the most familiar words in all the Bible, “For God so loved the world, that he sent his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 God so loved a rebellious world. The gospel writer John is not talking about a world so big and full of people, but a world of people who have turned away from their Maker. God made the world very good (Genesis 1:31), but the people of the world have rebelled against God.

God loves this rebellious world lavishly. When Jesus told us to love our enemies, he was not speaking in hypotheticals. He spoke what he was at that moment actively doing.  

God loved this cruel world so much, he sent to it what was most precious to him, his only Son.   No human love comes close to this, but we can try to imagine.

A teenage girl has loving parents that afforded her all the advantages of a stable home life and much more. In her teenage years, she begins running with the wrong crowd. She gets into drugs and other things that need not be mentioned. All the while, this girl’s parents watch her downward spiral. They see her pleasant demeanor replaced with a combative one and her bright cheerful clothes swapped for dark, dreary clothes.

Now, once again mother and daughter are screaming at each other across the kitchen table. The daughter is deviant, stubborn, and refuses to show even the slightest glimmer of respect to her mother, who has given up so much for her. Her mother, heartbroken, senses herself losing her cool. This daughter of hers is being so disrespectful and ungrateful for all she has provided her. But, as mom’s righteous indignation is about to boil over, she pauses. She stops speaking. She walks over.  She opens her arms to embrace her daughter. Her daughter, at first, tries to push mom away. Mother gently pulls her closer. She embraces her with a hug, whispering, “I love you, I love you, I love you; don’t you see I love you?”

Finally, her daughter begins to hug back. Tears like two rivers flow down her cheeks. The daughter for the first time in a long time has a moment of clarity, realizing that she has been terribly ungrateful to and angry with the one who loved her more than anyone else in the world. Such love as that still pales in comparison to the God’s love for us. He loves us even more.

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