Loving the World
October 16, 2002 • By Ed Wrather
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. - John 3:16.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. - 1 John 4:7-11.
It has been said that God hates sin but loves the sinner and it is a Biblically true statement. God loved the people in the world so much that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us. Romans 5:8 makes it clear that Jesus died while we were still in opposition to Him or still His enemies. God has provided a way through Jesus for every person on this earth to have salvation. That salvation is free and the only requirement is that we be willing to turn from our sins and receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. Amazing! It is as the hymn says Amazing Grace!
If you were God or if I were God would we really make available salvation to everyone? Would we want the Beltway Sniper or Snipers to be saved? Would we want the Son of Sam to be saved? Would we want Saddam Hussein to be saved? Now, I am not saying these people will be saved but they could be saved if they were willing to turn from their sins and receive Christ as their Savior. If I were God I don’t think I could make salvation available to those people. But I am not God and you are not God. His thoughts and ways truly are above our thoughts and ways.
As hard as it is to understand God did not say that He loved part of the people in the world, or some of the people in the world. No, He said He loved all of the world. So what does that mean for us? It means that if we want to follow in the steps of Jesus we cannot be selective in whom we share our witness. It also means that we should pray for the salvation of all people - including Saddam Hussein and the Beltway Sniper. In this context Luke 9:23 seems a very hard thing to do. We must “deny ourselves.” Deny what we want and instead chose what God wants. It is not God’s will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
If it were up to us we probably would not have seen very much potential in the shepherd boy named David. No one else not even his only family thought David could be a king. Only God chose David. Look around. Is there someone that you have been refusing to witness too? Is there someone that you have been refusing to pray for? What would God have you to do? What must you do in order to truly follow Jesus?