For the Love of God
By Stuart Wiffen
John 3:16 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”
GIFT GIVING – A SIMPLE GESTURE OR AN EXPRESSION OF LOVE?
Think for a moment the last time you gave a gift to someone you love. What was your thought process? I assume it was different than when you bought a gift for an acquaintance or a distant relative. In general, I think there are two key factors that need to be in play for your gift to be an expression of love rather than just a simple gesture. First of all we consider the cost, whether it be your time, money or level of effort. Secondly, we consider the needs and desires of the person – we want to get a gift that will make them happy. So if we wish the gift to communicate deep affection, then the cost will be great and we will think hard to make sure it is something that they will be truly happy with. I think it is fair to say that the greater the cost and the more the gift meets a desire/need, the greater the gift is in terms of an expression of love.
So now let us consider the gift of God to us – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.”
How does it measure up?
THE GREATEST COST
How do we measure the cost of the gift of God’s only son? Not easy considering he is God and in so many ways not like us. We can of course say that he is of immeasurable worth, the creator of the universe, omnipotent, omniscient etc. Of course that describes his value in general terms within the world (when compared to other entities we find in the world) but that does not help us understand what the cost was to the giver – God the Father. What counts in this is how much the gift – Jesus the son, cost the Father – the giver.
Value and worth are concepts that do not exist in isolation. They only make sense in relation to a being. Nothing has value in and of itself; value is always something that is ascribed by a being or beings with desires. I resisted saying a person, as my dog ascribes value to different objects. For example, a ball is boring to my dog – so I guess he is not like other dogs. His favorite squeaky toy has value, but only if he is in the right mood and then certain dog treats are of supreme value.
So how does God the Father value his only son? Let’s see what scripture says.
John 3:35 (ESV)
“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand”
Hebrews 1:2-3a (ESV)
“But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power…“
What my dog values is trivial and somewhat foolish, but what God values is magnificent and of ultimate beauty. There are no flaws in his judgment. There is nothing greater than God and therefore there is nothing greater than the radiance of His glory – his son, the exact imprint of his nature. The Father delights in the Son and has appointed him to be the heir of all things and has given all things into his hand. All that has been created has been created through the Son and for the Son. The Father’s gift to the Son is simply all things. We can safely conclude that God the Father values nothing more highly than his son. When God sent his only son to the earth there was no greater cost to him.
THE GREATEST NEED
So have you ever considered what is the single greatest need or problem that the world faces today? Is it global warming, the war on terror, the conflict in the middle-east or the global economy? Or perhaps you see the inequality of poverty that can cause famine and disease. Or you see the devastation of countries following natural disasters. These are of course all major problems facing the world today. Yet I would propose that none of these are actually mankind’s biggest problem. They are in fact symptoms of a much bigger underlying problem.
Sin is the underlying condition that has taken hold in each of our hearts. It is the heart condition that deceives us into thinking we are essentially good people and are somehow qualified to run our lives. We become the final judge of our lives and seek to justify our actions, because our self-esteem depends on it. We must feel good about ourselves.
Sin is what happens when we are separated from God and his eternal love and care. This is what happened in the garden when Adam disobeyed God. In this separated state without God, we live lives unto ourselves and fall short of what God intended for us – to be true image bearers of him.
Separation from God and the resulting condition of “sin” is our biggest need, whether we realize it or not. Sin has consequences on our lives every day, both for us and for those around us. Sin also has ultimate consequences. Without the death of Jesus, God’s only son, we would be left alone to face these consequences of God’s final assessment.
“… that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life”
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
We can conclude from this, that God’s gift of his son was the greatest cost that meets our greatest need. There has never been or ever will be a person of greater worth than the Son to the Father. And there never has been or ever will be a greater need than for a person to be reconciled to God. Therefore God’s gift to us of his only son is the greatest expression of love ever made or that ever will be made.
So in summary, if you truly believe that God sent his son to die for you then you can be sure that… GOD LOVES YOU (alot).
Stuart Wiffen is a disciple-maker at Existence Church. He currently works as a system integration project manager and architect. Stuart is a husband and father and passionate about the love of God.