God so loved the world that he gave his only son.
I had gone to church on Sunday morning with my grandparents. Instead of going to help in the children’s ministry like I told him I was going to do, my friend and I walked down to Dunkin Donuts. Our plan should have worked. I don’t remember how, but someone found out about our deceit and told my grandparents.
Later that day, my dad told me we needed to go over to my grandparents, so I could talk with my grandfather about my lie. I really respected my grandfather, and on the short eight-minute drive to his house, I was terrified. I did not want to go and talk with him.
What would he say to me? How disappointed would he be? Would he still like me? Would he still love me? Would he ever want to talk with me again? Would things ever be the same between us? I wanted to hide.
That was my fear. I knew that my grandfather knew me as a liar, as a sinner. Would he still love me?
John tells us that one of the reasons our hearts resist Jesus is because he is the light, who exposes our wicked deeds (John 3.19). Because our deeds are wicked, we want to stay in the darkness. Why? Because we’re afraid. Our hearts are afraid that God might reject us, if he really knew us.
The wonder of John 3.16 is that God loves a dark, wicked world. He loves the world to act to rescue it. He knows and loves you and he acts to rescue you. That’s why he sent Jesus, not to condemn us—we’re already condemned—but to save us.
When I went and confessed to my grandfather my sin, he forgave me. He was reassuring, he was welcoming, he was clear that I had lied, but he was clear that he loved me. In that moment, I was known and loved. In that moment, God was giving me a glimpse of what it’s like to be known and loved by him.
God knows everything about us. He knows all the sin, all the unlovable parts of our character, thoughts, and desires. But he loves us, not because we are so lovable, but to make us lovely.