Author: Steve Karges
Category: Evangelism Among Children
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” (a)
I have been thinking about and meditating on John 3:16. I have been under the conviction of the Holy Spirit to make some changes in my life, heart changes. I know that this can only happen with God’s help and my obedience to His Word.
Simply stated, I need to become a better lover! I need to grow in my love for God and people, especially the people I find hard to love. I admit that I am lacking in this area. When I compare my love to God’s love in John 3:16, I realize how shallow and immature my love really is. The truth of this verse is clear; God loves me (and you) so much that He gave His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for my sins. Someone needed to atone for sin, God demanded it. Since I am the one who committed the sin, I am the one who deserved to die. It was my sin that separated me from God. But God, in love, sent Christ to take my punishment so that I could be forgiven and redeemed. God looked beyond my faults and saw my need for a Savior.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”(b)
Think about how God felt as He saw His perfect Son beaten and tortured. Imagine God’s grief as Christ was hanging and dying on the cross. Consider the enormous price God paid in order to show His love to mankind. From John 3:16 I am learning that real love is not free of pain, it is not always appreciated and it puts the best interest of others first. God still continues to love even when the one He loves does not return the love. God’s love is unconditional.
All too often I simply go through the motions of being a Christian. I go to church, read my Bible, pray and sing “Amazing Grace,” but when do I really ponder, meditate on and internalize that The God of Scripture, The Creator, The eternal God of the universe knows and LOVES ME! God loves me so much that when He had to choose between me and His Son to die for sin, He gave His Son to be crucified and allowed me to live!
When I accepted Christ at the age of nine, I became a part of God’s family. I can imagine my picture being in God’s wallet along with the photos of every other believer. I think of God showing my picture and saying, “And here is Steve, another one of my kids! I love him so much!” As I try to absorb the depth and fullness of God’s love for me, I am in awe! How can I not respond to God’s love by loving Him in return?
“If you love me, you will obey me.”(c)
Experiencing God’s love is more than knowing the fact that God loves me. It is allowing His love to change my heart and to control my life. God’s love must rule every area of my life. His love breaks down barriers and builds bridges. The bridge in John 3:16 is Christ. My life is a mirror that reflects what is in my heart. When people see me, do they see Jesus? Is His love flowing through me to others? Do my words and actions build up or do they tear down? Am I exemplifying God’s love even to people who are uncaring, unkind, and mean spirited? It is easy to love the people who love me, but what about the difficult people in my life?
John 3:16 is also teaching me that love is action. God gave His Son. I show love for my family when I take the trash out each day without being reminded. This is a small thing (when I don’t do it, it can become a big thing!), but it is the daily acts of kindness and concern that illuminate God’s love to others.
Children’s Ministries International, Inc. celebrates 30 years of ministry in May. Over the years, has our ministry been known for its love? Have I modeled God’s love to leaders I have trained and to the children we have ministered to? Have I always shown love to each prayer partner, each donor and each volunteer? Regrettably, I have not and I ask for forgiveness. I am learning from John 3:16 that love and forgiveness go hand in hand.
“We love because he first loved us.”(d)
The purpose of Children’s Ministries International, Inc. is to glorify God by training leaders and partnering with His global church to evangelize and disciple boys and girls around the world. God’s love compels me to reach out to others in love. There are over two billion boys and girls on earth who need to experience God’s love in their lives. I am reminded that without love there is no ministry. So today, I am rededicating myself to being a better lover.
(a) John 3:16a (NLT), (b) Romans 5: 8 (NIV), (c) John 14:15 (WE), (d) I John 4:19 (NIV)