This weekend we hear the most beloved verse of the New Testament. John 3:16 is displayed in the end-zone of football games, stuck on car bumpers and billboards across the nation, and is so well known that you barely even need to say more than "John 3:16." What could be better than to hear that God loves the world?
Well, for all of its familiarity and common use as the gospel in a nutshell, this scripture raises some very uncommon questions. What God's love entail? Is he like a kind old dog who loves his master without question? Is God's love a kind of grace that overlooks your faults and accepts you because you are trying to be your authentic self? Something about God's love is that he "gave his only son." That doesn't sound like love. And then if you go beyond to John 3:17-22, we hear all kinds of talk about judgement, condemnation, and evil. Somehow God's love is for a world that has rejected him and rebelled against him. What does love look like then?
You will have to join the community of First Lutheran this weekend to hear what it means that God loves the world, and you, with more than kind fondness.