For God so Loved
GCI President Update | December 2022
In late September I visited our brothers and sisters in Manila, Philippines. I arrived, either late in the night or early in the morning, around 4:00 am. To my surprise, I found the airport decorated with Christmas trappings. One Canadian-Filipino fellow traveler was so moved, she requested that I take her picture in front of the nativity scene.
In my mind, I was thinking “Jesus sure came early this year.” But we know, he is always here.
John 3:16-17 is one of the most important passages revealing the mind of God toward humanity. Both verses are of equal importance.
16 ‘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. 17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 3: 16-17 (NRSVA)
“For God so loved” – what is the genesis of this love? When did it kick in? Was it at the fall of Adam and Eve? At the flood when God started over with Noah and his family? At the tower of Babel when he confused the languages. Perhaps when the prophets and kings failed?
Certainly, God’s heart was broken by the suffering of his children. The reality is that the Triune God was ahead of human history. John, the same author of the Gospel we just read, declares in Revelation 13:8 that Jesus was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world.
In essence, Jesus coming in the flesh was always God’s plan. The design for the second member of the Godhead to become a flesh and blood human was in the mind of God before the creation of Adam and Eve. In a small way, it’s kind of like a nativity scene in September.
God’s love is before what we call the beginning. And John 3 verse 17 tells us his love is a rescuing and restorative love. The incarnation of Jesus wasn’t intended for him to come and judge humanity in its fallen state. Humanity’s brokenness was highly visible, and the sting was felt by all. We were, as the line from O Holy Night says, “in sin and error pining.” So, Jesus didn’t come to rub this in. He came to make things right.
This child who came into the world, not in a palace with attending servants and nurses, but to an animal stall or cave, with lowly shepherds attending, was the embodiment of God’s love for the world. We celebrate this entry into the world because it was the greatest of miracles.
C.S. Lewis called the incarnation “the Grand Miracle.” He wrote: “The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. … Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this. … It was the central event in the history of the Earth—the very thing that the whole story has been about”
– C.S. Lewis, Miracles
Jesus always was, is, and will be, God’s plan of salvation. The incarnation is the central and greatest miracle that we all benefit from.
By a miracle that passes human comprehension, the Creator entered his creation, the Eternal entered time, God became human; it is reason to fall on our knees. And why did he come? Jesus became human with the life mission to die and rise again for the salvation of all people. Think of it this way, the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension do not happen without the incarnation. It is for this very reason that we walk through the season of Advent, to prepare our hearts and minds for the crescendo of the coming of Jesus into the world.
So to all the GCI family, I say, “Come let us adore him.” May your Christmas season be filled with Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father.
From Susan, me, and all your friends at the Home Office – A Very Merry Christmas!