Daily office commentary, John 3:34-36; the extravagant, lavish love of God

34-36 “The One that God sent speaks God’s words. And don’t think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces. The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts. That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever!

John 3:34-35, MSG

God’s love is extravagant and lavish; those that receive it “get in on everything.” God’s love is poured out infinitely and inclusively upon all.

“The person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.”

John 3:36, MSG

Is this person “in the dark” (“angry darkness at that”) because God is withdrawing God’s love and light as a punishment for avoiding and distrusting the Son? That’s one way to interpret this passage, I suppose. Instead, though, I see this as more of an explanation of the natural consequence rather than a divine punishment for not sufficiently believing a literal Christian faith.

Using Richard Rohr’s understanding of “the Son” in the gospel of John as the Universal Christ (but not Jesus per se), we might reinterpret this passage like this:

“The person who declines to live in the extravagant, lavish, inclusive, and universal love of God for all people and creation, perhaps by choosing to live in a world where God’s love and favor is reserved for those who have a particular version of a correct belief or religious practice, will unfortunately never be able to experience the full light and life of God’s inclusive and radical vision in the world. Instead, he or she will live in a world of partial light, and an angry light at that, because of what they perceive to be others’ lack of divine love, light, and favor. But in reality, it’s they who are cutting themselves off from a full measure of God’s radical, extravagant, lavish, inclusive, and universal love and light.”

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