“For God so loved the world…”

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It’s a pretty simple message really: God loves the world. Why do some seem to think it’s too simple and want to complicate it? It’s not rocket science. Perhaps you’ve heard it preached: “Take out the word ‘world’ in this verse, and insert your name to make it personal.”

It’s about Jesus and me. How grateful we are to have a God who is personal and concerns Himself with our personal spiritual journey! I do have to admit, however, that my faith becomes too self-serving more often than not with the focus of my prayers being only on my needs: “Lord, bless me; God, help me; Father, I need…”

Which brings me back to consider the whole message of John 3:16: It’s about Jesus and the world.

I write this having just returned from a mission trip with college students to assist a church plant in Miami, Fla. Such an experience reminds me of this perspective to the broader message of this Scripture.

The total focus of this verse is that God so loved the world and suggests He is interested in much more than simply my isolated spiritual journey.

Serving on a short-term mission trip brings this equilibrium back to my perspective. Am I truly concerned with the things that concern God? Are my eyes wide open to His work around me?

There is a whole world of hurting people who have God’s attention and are in need of His grace.

In Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV), we find Jesus declaring His own mission statement: “The spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

In our pursuit of individual holiness, let us not neglect to recognize the world around us from God’s viewpoint. Such an outlook will never be about leaving the world as we found it, but it will move us beyond a self-serving faith and will have us asking: “What am I going to do with this little piece of the world God has entrusted to my care?”

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