March 13, 2022

God’s Way Of Love

Passage: John 3:14-21

C.S. Lewis described God’s love like this: "God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creations in order that He may love and perfect them. He created the universe, already foreseeing – or should we say ‘seeing’? The buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stakes of beams, the nails driven through the nerves of His hands, the repeated torture of the back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up… Herein is love.  This is the diagram of Love.  He gave Himself!"  John 3: 16 gives us a portrayal of the most profound love that was ever given,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

First we see that God Included The Whole World In His Love.  John made it clear to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world...”   The Greek word for world, “kosmos” is defined as “the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ.”  This is the world that God loved.  You know, there is no one other than God who could love that way.  He didn't make a list of all the good people; He didn't think of the Jews first, the people He chose, to love them first and then the rest.  No, it says He loved the world.  The estimated number of people in the world is 7.9 billion and every single one is loved by God.  He loves a man in a hut somewhere in Africa in the wilderness.  He loves all the street children in overpopulated South American countries.  And yes, the executive of a company in a skyscraper in New York City, who might not even think of God, is loved just as much as He loves every person on the face of the earth.  By the grace of God, we were included as well to be recipients of God's love.  Never did we do something to deserve God's love; never could we make Him love us.  He loves us regardless.  It has to move our hearts my friends to know that we were included in God's love.

After Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus and the world about the fact that we all were included in God's love, He made a point, which always separates the love of God from our love – God's Love Is Sacrificial.  According to a footnote in the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible an alternate translation of the first part of John 3:16 is as follows: “For this is how God loved the world…”  How did God love us?  He loved us by giving, by serving, by sacrificing.  So here we learn something important about the nature of true love.  Some people think they love others because of what those people do for them or how they make them feel.  But God shows us that true love has nothing to do with what you can do for Him, but everything to do with what He did for us.  Bryan Chapell told the story of what happened in his hometown: Two brothers were playing on the sandbanks by the river.  One ran after the other up a large mound of sand.  Unfortunately, the mound was not solid, and their weight caused them to sink in quickly.  When the boys didn't return home for dinner, their family and neighbours organized a search.  They found the younger brother unconscious, with his head and shoulders above the sand.  When they cleared the sand to his waist, he awakened.  The searchers asked, "Where is your brother?"  The child replied, "I’m standing on his shoulders." With the sacrifice of his own life, the older brother lifted the younger to safety.  God gave His Son, Jesus Christ for one purpose – to sacrifice His life.  He wasn't just given away to the world, but He gave Himself.  We were in the sand of live and we sank deeper and deeper and by sacrificing Himself, Jesus lifted us to safety.  O my friends, there aren't too many people who would put themselves on the line for others.  Perhaps a husband would lay don't his life for his wife or a parent for a child.  In our story it was a boy for his younger brother.  But, let's think about it – Jesus sacrificed Himself for those who didn't accept Him; they were His enemies.  What can reach deeper in our lives than the way of God's love on the cross when Jesus gave up His spirit for us?  We ask in a hymn as we sing:

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior's blood! Died He for me? who caused His pain! For me? who Him to death pursued?”                                                                                         

My friends, all we can do is to accept the sacrifice of love.  We can never repay God.  What we can do is to make our stand for Jesus.  And in the season of Lent, we commit again our lives to Him.  I think you will agree with me – as things are presently in our world, there is no more crucial time than now to stand up for Jesus.  Christian principals are more and more removed as the message goes out, “Everyone must live for himself or herself.”  The “I” and “Me” perception is so prominent in our time and it's the opposite of what God wants to see in our lives.  Because of God's Sacrificial Love He claims our lives for Himself.  In 2 Cor. 5: 15

we read, “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him Who died for them and was raised again.”

Lastly Jesus told Nicodemus that God's Love Is Eternal.  We read the precious words,
“...that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  We see so many things in this life that can go bad or spoil.  There are so many things that can bring an end to people's lives.  We learned of war in Ukraine over the last 2 weeks and we saw the images of those who lost their lives and those who try to get themselves to a safer place.  And if it's not only a war, it can be a disaster or anyhing else that threaten people's lives.  We are reminded that nothing in this life is secure.  In a flash we can lose everything; in a flash we can be taken away.  But God's love shows us something that brings us peace above any human comprehension.  There is God's heavenly realms that the bible gives us glimpses of.  We read about a multitude before the throne of God praising Him.  Can you see yourself among the multitude singing to God's glory and experiencing the blessedness?

My friends, we all have read John 3 hundreds of times in our life time, but God made it clear to us this morning, my way of love is far above any other kind of love you have shared or received.  In the Season of Lent, we pause and we appreciate the love of God, that became a reality in Jesus Christ.  As we see the Passion of the Christ, we see the heart of God – how His love burned for each one of us to have given us Jesus.  All praise and thanks we bring to our Father in heaven.

Amen.                                  _________________________________                                                Rev. Willem H. van de Wall