For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trust in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. (John 3:16-17, Amplified)
A friend came over today for our weekly prayer for the nation. As we prayed, God brought us back to a scripture that we read almost every time we come together to pray. It is Ephesians 3:14-21. This is a scripture that I have known, studied, prayed and meditated on for more than a decade. However, today something in it struck me in a different way. It is found in verse 19 in the Amplified Bible.
[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ…
For years I have prayed that I would know and experience His love for me personally. For years I have prayed for my loved ones to know and experience the love He has for each of them. I have also prayed for my ‘enemies’ to know and experience His love. But today I prayed something else. I prayed that I would know and experience His love for others. I prayed that the Body of Christ would know and experience His love for the world. For God so loved the world…
I had an experience about 17 years ago. I was walking through my living room when I saw a Christian woman on television. She had a tall and long wig and lots of makeup. In my heart I judged her appearance and how I thought her appearance made Christians look goofy or weird. I then fell to my knees. Not in repentance, though that quickly followed.
My knees actually buckled under the weight of love that I suddenly felt for this woman. God had allowed me to experience for a moment at least some of the love that He felt for her, this woman that I had just judged. I repented. To this day I refuse to judge, reject, condemn or pass sentence on anyone, because He loves them. He sent His Son to save them not judge and reject them.
…Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… (Matthew 5:44, Amplified)
…but You have loved back my life from the pit of corruption and nothingness, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back. (Isaiah 38:17, Amplified)
Strengthen us Lord that we might experience Your love for the world.