“For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
Leonardo Da Vinci wrote: “A great love is the child of a great knowledge.” I wonder why he phrased it that way. He was himself an illegitimate child. He knew firsthand abuse and rejection. Among the greatest geniuses of all history, his knowledge taught him about love. He lived at the dawn of the Renaissance, when human reason was emerging from the medieval western dominance of accepted truisms and led him to rely on the reflections of evidence that he discovered for himself. And he’s right in regard to human relations. We have such sayings as: “To know him/her is to love him/her.” “I never really knew him until….” “If you only would get to know her, you would have another opinion.” But with God there is no learning curve. God knows and loves whom He knows simultaneously.
We might even claim the reverse. In the beginning was love. The almighty God loved what He created. The story of creation notes that at the end of each day, “God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10,18, 21, 25); finally, on the sixth day after God completed His work, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (1:31). Nothing directly pertaining to the good of man is stated. Man’s good is contained in the general overall blessing of creation in general terms. All else in creation is what it is – only humans are made to take part in their own value. Man is potentially good. He/she must become what they are in the sight of God.
God so loved the world that He knew what He would have to do if He were to fashion a creature capable of appreciating all that He had done in creation, some being who could render thanks on behalf of all other creatures and for nature itself. One who would need to be free, so that the response of joy and gratitude would come from his/her own heart and not be in any way programmed. God knew that such a creature would falter and fail to fulfill God’s expectations, then fumble along, subject to the temptations that would come from sin and its source. Left to his own devices, the human would be helpless to find his way back to his original status before God; hence, the only way to return the man and woman to their rational senses would be to enter the world as man while not losing any attribute of being totally divine. God anticipated the reception that His Son would receive, yet He sent Him out of love. The prize was worth the price – at least to the Holy Trinity. How can God love us that much?
The answer we are incapable of comprehending. Such love transcends mere human reason. Does He love all those who consider this to be mere fantasy? Evidently. Does He love those who use every means to frustrate, thwart and oppose the grand plan of salvation that He revealed to the world in Christ Jesus? Yes, that too. Our Lord Jesus warned us that “A time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God” (John 16:2). That time has come. Nobody is unaware of the dangers Christians living in North Africa or the Near East face and accept as a way of life, persecuted and even killed by fanatic Muslims who devote their lives to eradicating Christianity and Christians from the earth. Are they too not loved by the loving Father in heaven above, Who sees all of what is taking place on the earth?