”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17).
Most of us are very familiar with John 3:16. We know and teach that God sent his Son so that those who put their trust in him would not perish but enjoy eternal life. What most of us miss is John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world.” We focus on the salvation but still live our lives thinking that God is out there waiting and watching to condemn us.
For much of my life, I saw God as the One who sat up in the heavens looking for my every mistake. I felt condemned and judged all the time because I knew my weaknesses far too well; I was aware of all the times I fell short of the glory of God. If God was not constantly angry at me then, at least, He was very disappointed by me. I could not grasp that God was for me not against me.
Reading this passage from again while preparing for The Abundant Christmas talk, I saw my error. For the past 10 years, I have walked through a healing process, one that has allowed me to see my Father’s heart for me. I have seen the Lord’s patience with me, his love for me, his desire to set me free and to redeem even those things in my life for which I was most ashamed. Slowly, but surely I have come to believe the passage of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future.” I am starting to grasp that the Lord’s desire is to bless me. Yes, life involves much trial, tribulation and pain; however, God, in his infinite wisdom, knows that those things are necessary to grow us into Him. Going back to the words of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world.” For God so loved me; for God so loved you, that He gave His only Son that we may have intimate relationship with the Godhead.
Do you walk through your days knowing that you are completely known by God, accepted through Christ and perfectly loved? Do you appreciate that He is for you and not against you? Do you know that no one wants your happiness like God does? Think of how much you long to see your son or daughter happy, joyful, and content. Your feelings for your child are only a glimpse of God’s feelings for you. Our human love is imperfect but God’s love is perfect. In his book, The Purpose of Christmas, Rick Warren writes that God does not want to rub your sins in; instead, He wants to rub them out. That is what Jesus came to do — to show us the Father’s love, take our sins upon himself so that we can enter into relationship with the God who loves us.
How would your life change if you lived in this love of the Father? How would your life change if you lived in the perfect acceptance and delight of your Father? Would you be free to fail, to make mistakes, take risks, to truly love God and others?
Hear the truth of God today — God is for you! He is not against you. God loves you and has a good plan for your life. If you cannot accept and embrace this truth right now, take some time to sit with the Father and ask Him to show you what keeps you from believing in His love and delight. There are often wounds behind the lies that we believe. Thankfully, God is not only the perfect Father, he is also the perfect healer.
Entrust yourself to the One who loves you today for He has abundant plans for you!