John 3:16-17, the Gospel Lesson for the Sunday before the Elevation of the Life-Giving Cross
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
St. Irenaeus of Lyons (d. 202AD) writes:
“God created Adam in the beginning, not because he needs the human race, but so that he might have a recipient of his generosity. Moreover, God commanded us to follow Christ, not because he has any need of our service, but because he wants to give us salvation. To follow the savior is to share in salvation, just as to follow the light is to gain the light. People who are in the light do not themselves provide the light but are illuminated and made bright by it; they do not contribute anything to it but, by being illuminated, they receive the benefit of the light. Similarly, to serve God does not mean giving him any gift, nor has God any need of our service. On the contrary, it is he who gives to those who serve him life, immortality and eternal glory. He rewards those who serve him without deriving any benefit himself from their service: he is rich, he is perfect, he has no needs. God requests human obedience so that his love and his pity may have an opportunity of doing good to those who serve him diligently. The less God has need of anything, the more human beings need to be united with him. Consequently, a human being’s true glory is to persevere in the service of God.” (Drinking from the Hidden Fountain, p 27)