For God so loved the world ... (Jn 3:16)
Part of Speech: adverb
Definition: to a degree
Synonyms: extremely, indefinitely, indeterminately, infinitely, remarkably, so large, so much (Thesaurus.com)
With one little word, the entire picture in this verse changes. It's not that God loved the world, but that He so loved it. He loved it to an extreme degree, so large, and so much.
In ourselves, we can't grasp that. Yet think of Jesus' death.He said:
No man taketh [my life] from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (Jn 10:18)Jesus laid down his life of his own accord. It was his choice. The people couldn't take it though they tried numerous times. (1Jn 3:16;Jn 7:30;Jn 10:31,39)
This speaks to me of an extreme. If Jesus was killed because He failed in some way, because the people were stronger than him, because He was overpowered, because He fell into a trap, then where is the extreme? That makes his death ordinary, like any other thief or robber. No,it's that He gave His life. It's that the Father sent the Son, knowing He would die. It's that Jesus' submitted himself to false judgment and physical torture on purpose that makes it extreme.
Now, ask yourself. How extreme are you? God gave to the extreme. Do you live for him to the extreme? When someone speaks against Christ and the church, when someone says, 'God did this to me,' when someone discounts Christianity as unimportant, do you rise up? Do you say, "No, not my Father. Not the God of love!" (1Jn 4:8,16)
If you were in the church with Christ and the moneychangers were selling there, would you react the way he did? (Mt 21:12;Mk 11:15) Would you throw them out in front of everyone?
Christian author, Lori Roeleveld posted a blog about this issue that pierced straight to my heart. When confronted by an unsaved friend's words, she reacted to the extreme.
Once I had a friend who ran a coffee shop. We frequently had spiritual conversations but I never broached subjects that might incite him to feel guilt or fear.
One day, he said to me, “You know what I like about you, Lori? My sister’s a Christian like you but she tells me I’m going to hell. It makes me feel bad and I don’t like it. You’re a Christian, too, but you don’t bother me with stuff like that.”
I stopped with my coffee half-way to my lips and took a long look at myself in the mirror over the coffee bar before answering. “Wow, friend. I have to apologize for that – to you and to your sister – because, I do, in fact, believe you’re headed for hell.”
“What?” He exclaimed. “How can you say that?”
I ticked off the reasons on my fingers. “You don’t believe Jesus is God. You don’t believe you’re a sinner who needs forgiveness. You don’t believe you need to be saved so you won’t trust Jesus for your salvation. In my understanding, if you continue on that path, you’re headed directly to hell. Tell your sister I apologize for making her look bad by not mentioning this earlier in our relationship.”
“Hey, Lori, you’re really scaring me.” He said.
“Now, we’re getting somewhere.” I replied.
Her words convict me every time I read them. I haven't been that extreme; pray God will help me be that way more.
Yet there is another side to being extreme. Standing up for Christ is extreme, but living in the extreme promises He provided is even more extreme. He provided healing. I can live every day of my life extremely well. (Is 53:5) He provided peace. I can live every day in great peace and safety. (Jn 14:27;Ps 23:2) He provided prosperity. I can live extremely prosperous, extremely successful. (1Pe 2:24)
"But wait," you say, "I don't believe in all that."
Well, do you believe Jesus did an extreme work or not? Did He die on the cross and raise gloriously from the grave, to maybe make you well, but maybe not? Did He do all of that so you could suffer for a few years and then He might help you?
NO. That goes back to the image of God with a great 'to do' list. He's up there scanning down the page thinking, "Gee, what can I do to them today. What will teach them the most?"
That's not an extreme God. That's not SO love. That's not so much, so large, indefinitely, indeterminately, remarkably.
I asked the Lord a while back why sometimes we don't receive certain things and His response was extreme. He said, "Where are your expectations?" We only receive what we ask for, so did you ask for a cup of water or a lake?
I'm telling you today, believe to the extreme! He's an extreme God with only the best of the best planned for your life. So show it - by standing tall when the fiery darts are headed toward you, by speaking up when no one else will, by saying, "Whoa baby, look what God has done for me!"
Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.