Summary: John reveals to us the plan of the God who loves his people very much; so much that he sent his very own Son to be a light in the darkness. And when the powers of this dark world seem to overwhelm us, all we have to do is choose to follow that light.
And you know, sometimes it is hard for us to hear and believe that we are loved so very much. Or maybe we are afraid to acknowledge that we are loved because we know how very vulnerable that makes us. Or perhaps we don’t want the dark spots of our souls to be revealed. Sometimes it’s difficult to walk out of the darkness. It can be hard to believe in and to trust God’s love described in John’s words, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believe in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.” God so loves the world. God so loves everyone. God so loves you. God so loves me. Try saying that to yourself slowly, with you name at the end. Reflect quietly on God saying that to you right this very moment!
Without those words from God, all we see is darkness. All we often hear are angry voices, put-downs, bitter rejections and total despair. And all of that darkness may not be just coming from other people; it just might be coming from within our minds as well. A few years ago, when I was leading student ministry, I had a difficult conversation with a very faithful and active student. This young person was a believer of God in Christ Jesus, and yet, she was in this deep haze of depression because she felt that God was angry with her and that she didn’t measure up. She felt that she was not good enough for God’s grace. She had grown up in the church and since proclaiming her faith in Christ, she had tried so hard to be what she thought was the “perfect Christian.” But she had failed every time. She had missed the mark. By her own admission, she was a horrible sinner. And as she sat in my office, broken and torn down, she whispered, “How could God possibly love me?”
After a few moments of searching for the right words, I lifted up the tried and true. “Jen,” I said, “do you remember John 3: 16?” Of course she did, and as the words ran through her head, the tears began to dry. It was a spiritual awakening for her. It was as if God was speaking to Jen and reminding her that he loves her just as she is. You could see the self-doubt lifting, and a whole new perspective opened up; light shined into the darkness of Jen’s life. And then, trusting that God truly did love her, Jen began to be able to love herself. The darkness faded in the light of God’s love.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.” The light of God’s love is shining in the darkness of our lives. The kingdom of God has come to earth; a new reality has emerged! And a major key to the Christian journey is learning to live in this new reality, in the light of God’s love, even when the darkness threatens all around.
“God so loves you!” Do you trust God on this? If you do, then make the choice; walk out of the darkness. Take God’s words of love, acceptance, and life with you. Allow God’s love to change you. And then go out in Christ’s light and love God and others as well! Amen!