One of the most well-known verses in the Bible begins with the word “for.” It’s a little word, as most conjunctions are, yet one packed with power.
The well-known verse is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
My favorite Greek professor said, “Pay attention to the function of the conjunction.” He even wrote that sentence on one of my papers when I failed to pay attention to the function of the junction. The function of the conjunction in John 3:16 is explanatory. It explains. In this instance, it’s an explanation of the conclusion of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus.
Jesus says to Nicodemus, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Then comes the explanation. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” God the Father’s love is the ground of the gift of his son.
The verse continue with an explicit statement of the purpose for which God gave his only-begotten son, “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
If God’s love is the ground of the gift of his son, a share in God’s life is the purpose or goal of the gift. God’s life is love, for God is love (1 Jn 4:7-11). So God’s love is the ground and the goal of the Father’s gift, a gift received by faith.
This series of articles has been about God’s love and our participation in it. For, at St. Mark’s, we believe people exist to live in the love of God, by the love of God, and for the love of God.
Engagement with God’s love moves us in two directions: worship and mission. For those who love God, he is, quite literally, the One we live for. This happy reality manifests in the highest concentration in worship, the center of which is the Mass. Mass by Mass we become a graced people living for the love of God: hearing the love of God in the Scripture, praying the love of God in the prayers, and feeding upon the love of God in the Blessed Sacrament.
Thus graced we are sent to continue living for the love of God everywhere we go: “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” Mission isn’t an activity or a program, though it may involve them. Mission is an expression of the life and love of God. God so loved that he gave. He sent his Son to seek and to save the lost. Jesus, the Son, says to the apostles, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (John 20:21).
God is the source and the goal of our lives. Trusting and loving the Father, following his Son our savior, receiving the Holy Spirit, and cultivating grace, the character God the Holy Trinity becomes the substance and shape of our lives. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
This is the life which is life indeed, and why it is meet and right to believe people exist to live in the love of God, by the love of God, and for the love of God.