If you’re a regular visitor to “Grace for the Race,” you know that I just concluded a five-part series on God’s very special love for you: God’s love wrought you, sought you, caught you, bought you, and taught you. Today, with Valentine’s Day just two days away, let’s see what it means to be “so loved,” as was described by the apostle John.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Think about this for a moment: writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John could not think of a better word to describe God’s love for us than “so.” This is highly instructive. The last five articles I’ve posted described different aspects of God’s love in Christ for us, all of which fit under this heading of SO LOVED. I believe God wants us to contemplate just how loved we are and apply the appropriate descriptive word that fits the circumstance we are in.
- Are you feeling worthless . . . like you’re some kind of a “second-class citizen”? Perish the thought; God’s love wrought you! You are made in the image of God!
- Are you feeling all alone . . . like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling? Perish the thought; God’s love sought you! And He has promised never to leave you or forsake you!
- Are you feeling like you’ve “blown” your relationship with God . . . like you’ve failed so badly that God would never want anything to do with you? Perish the thought; God’s love caught you! He sought out Adam and Peter—not to punish them, but to restore them. The angels in heaven rejoice when you turn back to God in repentance and faith!
- Are you feeling like you’re “not that special” . . . like you’re just another face in the crowd? Perish the thought; God’s love bought you! He gave His only Son to redeem you from the slave market of sin. You are spectacularly special!
- Are you feeling discouraged because the people around you seem so much more intelligent . . . like you’re just not that bright? Perish the thought; God’s love taught you! As we saw in Wednesday’s article, He has sent His Spirit to teach you all things!
You are so loved! God’s love for you is that great and all-encompassing!
Here are a few more ways to understand what it means to be “so loved.” We are . . .
SO LOVED that God gave us His precious Son, Jesus. God the Father gave God the Son, not only in His life, but in His death. Jesus willingly went to a cross in our place. Jesus Christ wasn’t held on that cruel cross by nails; He was held there by His unbelievable, supernatural love for us. When we contemplate what it means to be “so loved,” we must always see it in light of the cross.
SO LOVED that our relationship is rooted in our belief . . . not our behavior. Look at John 3:16 again. Jesus did not say that whoever behaves in good, right, true, and noble ways should not perish; He said whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will have eternal life. The apostle Paul echoed this truth to the Ephesians: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, italics added). Now that’s a “so loved” worth marinating in and sharing with the world!
SO LOVED that the best is yet to come; we have been promised eternal life! Remember, we are living in eternity right now. This means we have been given both eternal life and everyday life in which to experience the overwhelming, unconditional, unwavering, indescribable love of God!
So as we head into Valentine’s Day this weekend and we remember those we love in this life, may we never forget the One who first loved us with a love that could only be described by John as SO loved! From cover to cover, the Bible is God’s love letter to you. The more you read it through, from Genesis to Revelation, the more you will understand the meaning of “so loved.” And if you really want this Valentine’s Day to be all it could be, share the love of God in Christ Jesus with all those you know and love. Let them know that they too are SO LOVED!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!