“ God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~John 3:16
This is one of the most memorized verses in the Bible. It is bandied about so often that people become blind to its complete significance.
Most Christians emphasize the second half of the verse, “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This is true of course, but this treatment emphasizes a person’s individual salvation and can lead to a selfish kind of spirituality. This perspective is often used to scare people into accepting Jesus out of fear.
Believers who accept Jesus in this way often become complacent in their salvation, “I know I am going to heaven when I die. Do you know where you are going?”
They miss the greater picture emphasized by the first half of the verse, why God sent Jesus to us in the first place.
“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,”
God sent Jesus be cause He loved the world. We may be saved and assured of our reservation in heaven. But what good is it if we love Jesus, and don’t love the world the same way as God?
“You must love the world even more than you love Jesus.” ~Rev. Sun Myung Moon
This is the real message that Jesus tried to convey through his commanding us to love our enemies. We need to love the world, the whole world, just as God does.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matt 5:43-48
The perfection that Jesus is talking about is the perfection of love, to love exactly the same way as God love. We must learn to love even our enemies that same way that God loves them. He sent his Jesus for my enemies just as much as He sent Jesus for me.