Between the Lines: Lent 2: March 20, 2011

Text: John 3:1-17

“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.

This may be one of the best known verses in the Bible. It is not uncommon to see the words written across a banner held up in the end zone when a touchdown has been scored or as staging for a fly ball heading towards the stands along first base line. Why do you suppose people do that? What are they hoping will happen when millions of people on a Sunday afternoon are confronted on TV with such Jesus words? What do imagine impels or calls people to shout such banner words across the planet? Do you ever wonder what Jews and Muslims, atheists and agnostics feel when they see it? Do they even notice? If you have been a Christian very long you know these words by heart and, perhaps, may be fond of repeating them to strangers, friends, family and even to yourself. What are these very few words out of context saying about God? What does the one sentence give away about who God is, what “he” has done and what he wants or requires or demands of everyone in the world? What are they saying to you about believing and belief? What, for you, is meant by “perish” and “eternal life”? Do you count yourself as one who “believes in him” as suggested here? How much of your believing or not believing is related to “not perish” and “eternal life”? How do you imagine either (perish or eternal life) happening to you? How would you react if your priest or pastor asked you to be part of a group holding up a banner with these Jesus words at the next Redskin or Yankee or Little League or high school game? If you were given a choice of what to write on the banner what would you write rather than John 3:16?

– Bill Dols

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