I know, we see John 3:16 everywhere. Football games, political rallies, bumper stickers. Honestly, it gets on my nerves because it takes away from the power and the sweeping nature of the statement.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
I think many of us don’t catch what the object of God’s love is. God so loved the world. Yes, God loves individuals, but he loves them as they are part of the whole created order.
This is where Christianity differs from other faiths that offer paths to individual salvation. The Christian faith trusts in God as savior and redeemer of the entire cosmos. Christians believe that everything in the universe will be redeemed. This is not the individual’s attainment of nirvana professed in Buddhism or the achievement of moksha in Hinduism. This is not even the salvation from Jesus as “personal Lord and Savior.” The Gospel of John tells us that God cares for each one of us, but that God also loves the various parts of our solar system, God loves the extraordinary expanse of the Milky Way, God loves the stars that died billions of years ago and the stars that have not yet come into being, God loves the entirety of everything, as it was, is now, and will be.
We may feel tiny because of the vast expanse of God’s love. But, no matter how inconsequential we may seem, we are dear to God, because God loves the world. And that love will conquer the death of things.