“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
Since we are all children of God how could there be an “only Son?” This is possible because “Son” with a capital “S” refers to the Son of God. “Son of God” is a reference to the spiritual nature of Jesus, not the personal Jesus. The only Son, or only begotten of God, is the Spirit of God, or the Divine nature, in all of us. There is only one such Spirit in all people. It is one of a kind, though it has many names and forms of expression. In Unity, we call it “the Christ, or the “I Am of God.” To “believe in him” is to believe in the possibility of the human expression of the Divine. To “have eternal life” is to be present to the life of God in us, and therefore, to realize that life is eternal because God’s Spirit in us is eternal.
The “world” represents worldly mind, or consciousness. It is that aspect of us whose awareness, opinions, and experience of life depends solely on worldly input. To be condemned is to be imprisoned by this consciousness, or limited to living from it. To be “saved” is to know our own freedom and wholeness in God, since salvation literally means deliverance and health. In ancient Semitic culture “name” refers to someone’s nature, so the name of the Son of God refers to the nature of God’s Spirit.
The “darkness” is a cultural reference to the dark of night that covered up harmful or unethical actions, and to “hate the light” was to fear being discovered for deeds done in the unanimity of darkness. To “do what is true” and “come to the light” meant to be authentic with one’s self so that there was nothing to hide. The doers of evil represent our fearful and guilty thoughts, while those who do what is true represent our authenticity and commitment to integrity.
For the love of God so filled our worldly mind (“God so loved the world”) that it gave us an awareness of God’s one and only Spirit expressing through our human nature (“that he gave his only Son”), such that our belief in this (“everyone who believes”)brings us to an understanding beyond our mortal limitations (“may not perish”), and conveys to us that our nature is eternal Spirit (“but may have eternal life”).
Indeed, our awareness of God’s Spirit in us does not come into our worldly mind to limit us to it (“God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world), but rather to free us from this limitation (“but in order that the world might be saved through him”). Those who believe in an innate Spiritual nature are free from the limitations of worldly thinking (“those who believe in him are not condemned”), but those who do not are limited to the results of worldly thinking (“those who do not believe are condemned already because they do not believe in the name of the only Son of God.”). This is the choice (“the judgment”) that the awareness of God (“the light”) has come to the worldly mind (“the world”), yet fear remained (“people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil”). For a mind wrapped in fear (all who do evil) avoids spiritual awareness (hates the light), so fearful actions won’t have to be acknowledged and healed (“so that their deeds may not be exposed”). But authenticity brings greater spiritual awareness (“those who do what is true come to the light”), and the understanding that God is with us in all our actions (“so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”)
We have access to an awareness of God in all things for we have within us the one and only Spirit of God. This awareness brings an understanding that life is of God, and therefore is eternal. This gives us a sense of freedom from fear and the self imposed limitations that go with worldly thinking.