Most are familiar with the words of Jesus as recorded in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” While that is an amazing verse, and I don’t want to dismiss it in any way, what I would like for you to notice is the verses following.
In John 3:17-21 we discover even though God loves us so much, and he gave us his son in order to save us, many will still not come to him. The problem and solution is found in love. You see God loves us so much he gives but as Jesus said in v.19 “men loved darkness rather than the Light…” So the question is “What, or who, do you love?”
As I pondered loving the darkness I remembered the many years of my own life in which I lived and loved it. I had extremely dark tinted windows on my car, kept the blinds pulled shut at my house, wore dark sunglasses most of the time and even my clothing was black. Looking at me you would think I was a vampire. Just as Jesus said, I loved darkness rather than light.
Recently I have come to the conclusion this love of the darkness stems from a misunderstanding of the character of God. After all if you think God is a fun-sucker, and he’s out to get you, why would you come to him? On the other hand if you came to see how much he loves you, and is for you, that might change things a bit.
In Romans 2:4 it says, “It’s the kindness (goodness) of God that leads to repentance.” Once you start to see how good God is you will begin to trust him and maybe then you will start to move toward the light. You see it’s only through the power of a greater affection that we are able to let go of the deeds of darkness. Looking in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 we read where he commended them because they “turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God…” You see once we come to understand the things we’re clutching so tightly to in the dark can’t hold a candle to the living and true God we’ll be willing to let go of the one for the other.
After the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, Peter went back to fishing. One morning Jesus met them on the beach with breakfast already cooking. He asked Peter on three occasions “Do you love me more than these?” While it doesn’t say explicitly in the text I think Jesus was probably talking about the fish. You see Peter was a fisherman by trade when he met Jesus and it seems he went back to his old routine after the crucifixion. Maybe Jesus was doing a little fishing himself in order to find out if Peter’s love for fish had taken first place over his love for Christ. Jesus told him if you love me “feed my sheep.” It seems Peter may have been in danger of turning back but thank God Jesus was there to redirect his thinking. Changing your mind is what repentance is after all. In this case the question is do we love Jesus more than our old life?
When it’s all said and done everything boils down to love. What we love shows up in what we talk about, where we go and how we spend our time and money. In 1 John 2:15-17 we read, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world, If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
God is love and all he created came out from him. Therefore everything was created by love, for love to be loved. Since the fall mankind has lost touch with his purpose so he has misplaced his love. The love of this world shorts out our love for the Father but it’s ultimately based on a lie. You see the enemy has blinded us to the true nature of God so we live our lives for what is very temporal. Men kill for power and prestige only to leave it behind one day as their funeral procession winds through town on the way to the graveyard. Thankfully, while no one wants their friends and family to die, it is a great opportunity to be awakened to the fact we’re not going to live here forever. We are on our way to another place; the same place Abraham was looking for “which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”