Yesterday, while listening to Reverend Eddie Cruz, the Associate Executive Director, Mission Interpretation and Development. American Baptist Home Mission Societies, as he preached at First Baptist’s worship gathering, I was drawn to a familiar passage because it was his text. It was John 3:16, a passage many know.
Later, Sunday afternoon, I was contemplating that verse and was looking at it in the original language when something struck me. Because of the way it is commonly translated, “For God so loved the world…,” I was always under the deduction that the “so” described the depth of God’s love, but in actuality, that’s not how the adverb is describing God’s love. Think about this – does God’s love ever wane or lessen? If God is truly love, which He is, and He is unchanging, which He is, then the depth of His love never changes. The way I had always read the common translation gave to me this idea that God’s love was kinda like a roller coaster – up and down. Think about it; the word “so” is commonly used to describe the strength of an emotion – “I so hated what he did!” That describes the intensity of the emotion, not how that emotion was demonstrated.
Another way that the word translated as “so” can be translated is “in this way.” What I believe the Apostle John was trying to do was not to discuss the depth of God’s love, but to describe how He showed that love, which was sending His only Son, Jesus, into the world. John was showing how God creatively showed His love. Consider this translation: “For God loved the world in this way, that He sent His one and only Son into the world…” Using the adverb to describe how, and not the depth of, God’s love actually flows better with the preceding verses.
This is a very creative way in demonstrating love. It was so creative, that only a creative God could conceive of it. What human would consider this solution to a deep and dark problem in the world? (By the way, I consider that a rhetorical question.) It took pure creativity and the ability to go beyond any restrictions or boundaries or hindrances; only a creative God can do this.
As I considered this, two thoughts were brought to me. First, every human is created in the image of God. This doesn’t mean in a physical sense, but in metaphorical sense. God placed within us His characteristics, which unfortunately have been marred and badly damaged.
Second, the result of the wonderful news of John 3:16 (the gospel or “good news”) is that God, instead of trying to repair or recycle what had been marred and badly damaged, He started over in us. All who believe in Jesus have become new creations because God has placed His nature within us. What that means is that He has once again placed His characteristics and character within us.
That includes creativity. And what God has placed within us, He expects us to give it back to Him through using it as He would. So, more than any others, Christians should be the most creative of all people. Christians should be people who embrace and encourage people to conceive and try new ideas as they seek to give back, serve, and glorify God.
So, the question I have for us right now is this – how creative are we, or are willing to be, in sharing God’s love with the world around us? Not only has God placed His creativity in us, but He has already placed His love in us. So, let’s use these two characteristics together and then be prepared to be amazed at what happens.