God Loves The World, Do I?

The heart of living outwardly is having a compassionate heart toward others. And the heart of compassion is love. The outward heart of the Father is rooted in His love for us. John 3:16 begins with these famous words: “For God so loved the world”. And the verse continues and tells us that out of that love he gave his one and only son to give his life for us. The disciple and author John restates John 3:16 another way in 1 John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

The heart of the Father that gave his son so that we would know salvation is a heart anchored in His love for us.

And the same love the Father has for us is the love we should have for love one another. John continues in 1 John 4:11, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Those words should cause us to ask the question: God loves the world, do I?

I believe the starting point in living an outward life is having a heart that truly loves this world. And that is typically where my struggle begins. I love my family. I love my friends. But the world? That is where my heart wrestles. Is it truly possible for me to develop a love for the world. When I begin to think of the challenge of loving the whole world, there are some questions that immediately come to mind. One, can I love people I have never met? Two, can I love those who are difficult to love? And three, can I love those who are wicked?

Jesus was asked the question one day: “who is my neighbor?” since the law commanded Israel to love their neighbors. And Jesus answered the question with the story of a man taking care of his enemy who needed help. The point was clear: our neighbor is everyone. Not just our family or friends. Not just those who seem like us, believe like us, think like us. Our neighhor is all of humanity. Our neighbor is the world.

The interesting part of the story that Jesus told is that the man who loved his enemy did not know anything about the man. He didn’t know if he was a good person or a wicked person. He didn’t know if he was a Christian or an athiest. He didn’t know what political party he was from or his stance on any moral or cultural issue. What the man did know is this was a fellow human who needed help.

When Scripture calls us to love one another like the Father loves us, it is not a command to love those who love us. It is a command to love everyone. And what does that love look like? It is a sacrificial love that leads people to know the love of the Father. In the words of John 3:16 God’s love caused him to sacrificial give his own son so that the world may know life in Christ. Therefore, we are to sacrificially love the world so that the world may know Christ.

Which again leads us to the question: how do I love the world? Can my heart have the capacity to have compassion for everyone? Well, it doesn’t mean that I am going to enter into a relationship with everyone. It doesn’t mean that I am going to care for everyone.

But it does mean that I view humanity through the lens of how God views humanity: He loves them. And when I encounter people I am encountering people that God has compassion for.

One of the things we all know and have experienced is that relationships can be difficult because many times people can be difficult. Most of our trials are connected with people. And we can become conditioned to just dimiss people we don’t care for or click with. In fact, we often see people post quotes on social media that say things like: “spend time with people who only want the best for you.” or “Life is short. Only spend time with people who make you happy.” And the challenge is we can develop a mindset where we draw line a between those who we will love and those we won’t. We begin to see people based on what they can do for us. Does this person buid me or or tear me down. Does this people fill me up or drain me?

Sometimes for the sake of the Gospel relationship are going to hard. Somtimes for the sake of the Gospel we are going to feel like we are being used. In the story of a man helping his enemy we are not told the rest of the story. We are not told if the man who was hurt was grateful or ungrateful. He could have resented being helped by someone he despised causing the man who helped to say, “Well, I am never going to help him again.” Jesus doesn’t give us the end of the story because our command to love is not based on how people respond. Our command to love is not based on whether someone wants the best for me. Our command to love is based on the reality that God loves the world and we get the privilege of displaying that love to this world.

We can’t do this out of our own love or our own compassion. It must come from the Spirit of God giving us that love and compassion. Would you begin to pray that God would give you a love for others? Would you pray that God would soften your heart to have compassion for others? And then as you are praying for these things, look for ways that God is giving to you to practically live out that love for one another.

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