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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Devotion: In A Nutshell

Perhaps you do not know the name Rollen Stewart, or "Rainbow-Man," but my guess is you recognize him from this picture. He is the man who during the 70s and 80s was at most major sporting events holding up signs for John 3:16. His fanatical obsession with this verse, and eventually the End of the World ultimately placed him in jail. However, it is because of Stewart's publicity stunts this verse has catapulted into the most quoted verse in our pop culture, and as some call it—"the Bible in a nutshell." Before the 70s, this verse did not have the obsessive focus it now gets.

John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

If we allow this verse to be the Bible in the nutshell, it really does not call us to do anything with our faith. It acts more like a life insurance policy that will never expire, rather than encouraging Christian discipleship.

That is why I wish 1 John 3:16 would have received as much attention. 1 John 3:16 says, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another." Now that is a powerful witness of God's love for us, and a powerful call for us. This seems more like the Bible in a Nutshell—we are to care and serve the world to our own peril.

1 John 3:16 doesn't give us a life insurance policy, rather it calls us to lose our lives for the benefit of God.

To what extremes are we willing to show this sort of love? How can you set your desires aside to show this type of love to your significant other, to your friends, to your co-workers?

3 comments:

Mary said...

"... whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

It doesn't say those who don't believe in him shall not have eternal life.

wes said...

Fixed the layout problems so the devotion is easier to read.

Mary,
Reading the full section of John 3, especially verse 18, implied in verse 16 is the negation that those who do do not have faith in Christ are condemned.

However, I would also argue that Jesus is speaking to the Israelite teachers who had a very narrow understanding of insiders/outsiders, and therefore, his statement is a broadening of God's Kingdom to include the entire world that believes in God (not just a small ethnic group). I would not go so far to suggest that this verse could be used to justify universalism (as I inferred from your comment).

Just my further ramblings.

Jeff said...

The problem is not one of which verse you should choose to represent your view of Christianity.

The problem is that every verse in the bible can be used to promote whatever cause one wishes too. The verses in the bible do not make any coherent sense. They often conflict with each other. It is up to the reader to try to make sense of it all. The bible is not the word of a god it is an interpretation of men.

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