For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The word “love” is one of the most understood terms in our culture. For many people, love is nothing more than an emotion or set of feelings. “I love pizza” or “I love the Cardinals” are pretty common phrases we here everywhere. How does the Bible view love? More importantly, what does this verse tell us about God’s love?
God’s love is the setting of Gods affections
While emotions are definitely involved, the Bible describes Love as an action. Specifically, God’s love is His choice to set his affections on people. These affections include his unmerited favor and kindness in two directions.
- Intense Affections- God’s love is a sacrificial love, as He offers the life of His Son, Jesus Christ who suffers a brutal death to bring forgiveness to us. This is the essence of John 3:16.
- Deep Affections- God not only sacrifices His son, He offers His son to people who hate Him. As you read on in John 3, you read in v. 19-20 (ESV):
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
For many people, this is the side of God’s love we like to talk about. But the reality is that if we stop talking about God’s love here, we only get half the picture. The other side to God’s love is this:
GOD’S love also commits God to judgment
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
The judgment of God is His condemnation who rejects Christ. The idea that God’s love moves Him to judgment is confusing to so many of us because of our culture’s influence on the idea of love. But, if you love your family, wouldn’t you do anything to defend them? In that spirit, if a casual observer saw you fighting someone who was physically hurting your family, while they may not describe your actions as love it may in fact be the most loving thing you can do.
God’s love is no different. His commitment to both His son and the plan of redemption simultaneously commit Him to oppose anyone who rejects this plan. And while many in our culture may not see this as loving, this is the love of God in action.
If this is true, what are implications of the Love of God for us?
- God’s love leads us to obey. As we see the kindness of God, we are moved to lovingly trust and obey His Word.
- God’s love reminds us who God is. The Love of God shows us His heart.
- God’s love moves us to share the gospel. Because God’s love includes His judgment, we must urgently communicate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for our sins.