John 3: 16 is possibly the best known passage of scripture in all the world. We see posters and banners of this passage held high overhead at sports events of all kinds. If asked, many people will be able to give the gist of what it says, even if they cannot quote it fully.
This is a good thing. If only so many people could do the same with even a tenth of the rest of the scriptures. God has given them to us as His love letters after all. Who wouldn't want a working knowledge of letters received from the beloved?
Today, this was the Gospel given to us by the Byzantine Church. As I read this Gospel in preparation for Sunday, I began to reflect on the meaning of it, and a few thoughts occurred to me which I thought I would share.
God loves us! That should stun us by the mere thought of it. This is so great in its magnitude that we ought to be left speechless by it! Why should the One Who is all powerful, and able to create the extraordinary reality of all that is from the tiniest particle to the largest of universes show even the least interest in us? It isn't as if He actually needs us. He's the Creator of all that is. Yet He has chosen to share His life with us, and to love us, when we have infinitely less in common with Him than an ant has with a whale. To me, that is amazing.
The second thought which occurred to me is that He gives His Son to us. Why is this important, not only that God has a Son, but also that He gives His Son to us? His Son is quite literally all that He has. His Son shares all that the Father is and has, as well as Being All that He is. In His great love for us, God Gives us Himself, All that He Is and All that He Has without any reservation at all.
He has given us Himself so that if we believe in Him we will not perish, but have everlasting life. We are perishing. Each day that we live is a day closer to the grave. And so many times in our lives it is not a slow crawl to the grave, but a mad rush. We have so much with which we pack our days that we are incapable of enjoying the many moments that God has given to us to remind us of how much He loves us. God has given us His Son so that we might be freed of the mad rush toward death, and live His new life.
How do we live this new life? We live it by faith in Jesus Christ. So many times, people say that "all we have to do is believe in Him, and we will be saved!" That is true, but it doesn't quite go far enough. There are implications to Faith in Jesus Christ. If we believe, we are saved, but we must live our convictions if they mean anything at all to us. To believe in Jesus Christ means to rush into His open arms each day, and to concern ourselves at every moment with loving Him in every situation in which we find ourselves.
God loves us so much that He has freely chosen, in the person of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, to enter the Hell that we had created for ourselves in order to give us another possibility; the ability to choose to receive the gift of Heaven from Him. Knowing that we would put Him to a Hellish death, He made that the way in which His Life would be poured into us, through His voluntary self emptying. The choice is before us to receive this great gift, or to reject it. God has opened this door for us. Let us attend! Let us walk through the door before it closes, and receive His life, which is Life Eternal. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!