For more than a few years now I have been wondering why the favourite verse for many Christians is John 3:16 when the majority know what the verse says, ignore its context, really do not care what the writer intended, and are more in love with themselves than with God others. You cannot reason your way out of the plain truth that loving like God does has little to do with keeping the rules. What rules is God subject to and where would that put absolute and perfect freedom? In my very pleasant work of searching the Scriptures it was a joy to see that “so” in John 3:16 has nothing to do with the amount of love God has. Even the revered Billy Graham fell for it, even though he remain totally sold on the Lord Christ as the only Saviour. The UK’s two great universities, Oxford and Cambridge, settled for it, publishing in the 1960s a New Testament translation called the New English Bible, with John 3:16 saying “God loved the world so much…”. The very point of Messiah’s mission is to declare that God loves sinners. If God can love a little then we can all jump into a river and not get wet.
Certified knowledge and experience
I am not surprised that godliness is a childish perspective of being obedient (Galatians 3:21-23, 4:1-3). It takes an abundance of convincing for me to believe that people who think they have captured what love really looks like in a policy of law and righteousness, misogyny and xenophobia, injustice, prophetic bondage, and sheer ignorance. People running around with their own explanations of God’s character (while having no certainty of salvation or God’s gifts) will say God loves them and hates the disobedient or infidel. Fortunately for believers the revelation pipeline does not include a ton of human speculation about God’s intentions. There are only four lanes on the highway to understanding God’s interventions.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it (signified it having sent it) by His angel to His bond-servant John,”Revelation of John 1:1, NASB
Follow the trail of Messianic revelation in John’s prophecy.
- God gave the picture to Messiah Yeshua
- Yeshua gave it to his angel (most appropriately, the Holy Spirit)
- Certification and transmission follow
- Through the angel (the messenger) gave to John
There are no ‘sides’ to the question of God’s love. Reorienting our “loves” to mirror God’s does not call for us to die for the sins of the world, but it most certainly means that our love for people cannot be anything less. If we let anyone take the place of God in the transmission of his doctrine (how to live with other people) then it is certain that we have missed the transmission of his message (the good news). The rumour that the centre of spiritual life and human accountability is something other than caring about others does not come from a flowing river, but from a stagnant pond where the water has lost its wetting ability.