“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. - John 3: 16 (NLT) I am sure it is a surprise to no one that the top searched Bible verse of all time is John 3:16. It is the most known verse for a world that does not truly understand it. It is seen on signs at nearly every sporting event. It is only fitting that as we wind down the countdown we find ourselves only four days away from Christmas. The one holiday the world stops to acknowledge the birth of their Savior without realizing they need one. It is only fitting because John 3:16 describes the greatest gift ever given to mankind by God. The gift of His only Son so that we might have eternal life. We certainly did nothing to earn this gift and we certainly do not deserve it. It is not given as the world gives gifts, conditionally. So many however refuse to open the gift, choosing to ignore it or even mock it. Yet the gift remains for them as it did for us. Let us unpack the gift today and see what God is saying to us through the most popular verse in all of the Bible. The first thing we see is the motivation for the gift. For God so loved the world. As believers in Jesus Christ it seems we forget this truism all to easily when dealing with the world. We treat the world with moral disdain far too easily. We bad mouth the world. We lord ourselves over the world claiming some sense of superiority we have not earned. We cry out with indignation when the world dares to behave like the world. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. - 1Corinthians 2: 14 (NIV) The world is walking in darkness beloved and the things of God are foolishness to them. Yet it never ceases to amaze me when Christians become outraged when the world behaves like it simply does not understand the things of God. We seem to want them to be understanding and kind towards the very thing the Bible says they see as utter foolishness. When they react as the Bible clearly infers they will, we get all up in arms. What we forget though is this - for God so loved the world. The gift that we so easily enjoy He still desires for the world to accept. It is not our responsibility to be mad at the world when they refuse the gift. We are supposed to show them Christ. We are supposed to help convince them to open the gift God has given them. Continuing on in the key verse we see what the gift is. God gave His one and only Son. This is not some cheap gift beloved. We treat the grace of God so cheaply even though it cost God everything. We so easily forget the sacrifice of Calvary. We forget the fact that it was us who deserved crucifixion. We deserved the wrath of God. But God in His infinite mercy and love saw to it that we did not have to suffer eternal damnation. God saw to it that His only Son took our rightful place so that we might live. This is not the cheap love that many charlatans posing as preachers espouse today. Love that is exchanged for the riches of a world that is falling away. Love to excuse a lack of repentance when repentance is exactly what is required of us to open the gift of God. Do we truly grasp the gift we have been given? You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5: 6-8 (NIV) The world gives gifts based on performance. Even the fairy tale of Santa Claus requires you to be on the "nice" list. God however gave His greatest gift while we were all still on the "naughty" list; living in complete rebellion to Him! That is some gift beloved and let us never ever forget it. Wrapping up the key verse we see the benefits of the gift. God does not give gifts that fade with time. His gift is of eternal value. We all go through this life knowing there has to be something more. Something beyond this existence. As the key verses indicate, we were on a path that leads to perishing. We were headed for eternal separation from God. Into a pit of eternal blackness and fire. The world has turned hell into a caricature. People routinely joke about it when it is the last place they would ever want to go. But it is very real and we were all destined for it until God gave us the gift of His only Son. Yet like with so many of the earthly gifts we get, we seem to grow disinterested in the gift of God. We seem to get our fire insurance policy from hell and go right back to pitching our tents toward Sodom. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. - Genesis 13: 12 (KJV) Sodom of course represents the world in all of its rebellion and sinfulness. This verse is significant because the next time we see Lot again he is living in Sodom. This is the danger we live in when we choose to ignore the gift we have been given and play with the things of this world. We have been given a gift beloved by Almighty God. He gave it not only to us but to all of the world which He loves. He desires none to perish but all to find everlasting life through His Son's sacrifice. His gift was not just meant for us; it was meant for the entire world. Our responsibility now saved is to show this gift to as many as possible hoping that many will accept it as we have. Open it as we have. Enjoy it every day we are alive, as we should. Rev. Anthony.