“For God so love the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus did not say, “For God so loved Israel.” That’s what his disciples expected. Nor did he say, “God so loved America” or “God so loved Africa.” God loved the world.
But he only began His redemption plan with Jesus. He planned to finish the redemption of lost humanity by loving that world through you and me. And how has the church done in loving the world to Jesus? The commission was given 2,000 years ago.
Well, consider: 2 out of 3 people on earth have never yet heard the Good News. Even worse, half of that number—one of every three- CAN’T hear it because they live in an ethnic group where there are no Christians. If someone doesn’t go in from the outside they CAN’T hear the gospel. Yet God loved the whole world of perishing people.
We’re thinking about the God who loves the whole world. What is the church doing about that commission in our time? Praise God there is a new surge of sending streams from non-western nations. For example, Korea and southern India each send out tens of thousands of cross-cultural streams. Or consider Nagaland, a tribe in North-east India: With 1 million believers that church is sending 10,000 cross-cultural missionaries to other places that don’t have Christians.
Praise God for what He is doing in and through you! Yet most of our sending is of short term ministry experiences. That’s good. But to reach those who haven’t heard, who can’t hear because they’re out of reach of present Gospel witness, short termers can’t do it. What is needed are streams who are incarnational, like Jesus, and stay among a people long enough to learn their culture, to live out the life of Jesus so people can see it and be drawn to him.
So why did the Father send the Son to be incarnate among us and give his very life for us? That whoever hears and believes “will not perish but have everlasting life.”
The OBJECT of God’s love, then, is the whole world.
The GOAL of God’s giving? That people not perish but have everlasting life.
Now consider the NATURE of God’s love
“God SO loved…” we read. How much did God love? Enough to give His only Son. Indeed, love is proved by the sacrifice it makes. There may be genuine love without sacrifice, but it is unproved, untested. Yet the Father gives us the example for us to follow. Sacrifice for missions, sacrifice for the church, sacrifice for family. Love for the whole world, that people not perish but walk in loving oneness with God through the giving up of our own desires for His.