Thursday, August 09, 2007

The next verse

I love John 3:16. I think that in anticipation of meeting in private with Nicodemus, Jesus spent the whole night praying, asking the Father to give Him just one line that would be remembered forever - you know, some words that would leave Him a legacy or something. Hehehe... Just kidding!!

But really, I do love how the simplicity of the gospel comes out in these words spoken in the dark to a skeptical yet curious Pharisee.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

However... as many people as have come to believe in Jesus through the simple message that our culture is perhaps more reminded of at sporting events (through strategically placed "John 3:16" signs), I'm saddened that the truth of the next verse seems to have either been ignored or forgotten by those who tout John 3:16.

Before I get to this verse I want to share how in the past couple of days I've been reminded about how our society views Jesus and the Bible. A conversation I overheard yesterday is what led me to think about writing about this, and a post from Matthew kind of solidified the idea.

The conversation I overheard was between two younger guys who work in the inpatient pharmacy at the hospital where I work. They were talking about some kind of event that was coming up - and I have no clue what it was or what it involved at all - and one of them said that "So and so is going to bring a puppet 'Jesus' with a wagging finger! Hehehe." They both seemed to get a laugh out of it. And just to repeat, I have no idea what this was about, but I got the impression that the intent of having the puppet was to mock Jesus, as if to say that Jesus was wagging his finger at whatever they were doing.

Matthew's post has to do with an episode of "According to Jim" in which jokes were made about the Bible being a rule book, and in which they talk about how God is all about keeping laws.

A rule book? All about laws? A wagging finger? "Tsk tsk," says Jesus, "You naughty person, you shouldn't be doing that."


"...God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." (John 3:17)

Look at all the sinners Jesus came in contact with, face to face. "Tsk, tsk" is the farthest thing from the message He gave them. The LAW wagged its finger, relentlessly, but grace and truth came through Jesus.

So why do these pharmacy people and the According to Jim characters, and much of the rest of the world view Jesus as a finger wagger? Why do people on-the-outside-looking-in see the Bible as a rule book? Why is Jesus mocked as one who looks with condemnation upon sinners, and why are Christians mocked as self-righteous bigots, when Jesus came not to condemn but to save, and when Christians are meant to be the ambassadors of this good news?

Really... just what is the church presenting if many people aren't seeing life, salvation, freedom and grace when we talk about our Jesus and live our lives in front of them? Is a wagging finger really the impression Christians give about Jesus? Apparently, yes.

But here's what I want to do:


You with me?


  1. Great post. What I can't quite figure out is why most of churchianity (as Rob Rufus would call it) doesn't even want to think about a Jesus who didn't come to condemn. We've been so conditioned for condemnation that (we think), if it's not the only way, it's certainly one of the best ways to look and feel spiritual. And we turn around and attribute all the harsh 'truth telling' and 'conviction' to the Holy Spirit? The more I look around our western church subculture and pick up books,look at Christian websites, etc, the more I see how far we've fallen from grace. We've fallen so far that there are precious few who can even conceive of the idea of the pure gospel that Jesus came to inaugerate, and those few are quickly labeled heretics. We've given in to evil unbelief that says "the gospel is too good to be true, just add a little law and judgement to make it more believable". But God is changing this, in us and more and more in others. People are hungry, desperate for the true gospel and when we finally really really get it, our world will be rocked to it's very foundations by the Gospel that is the Power of God! The more God reveals of his grace to me, the more utterly confident of this I become...

  2. So definitely with you!!!! You inspired me to write a new post for my blog on the same verses.

    Excellent post!!!

  3. Jul,

    I fully agree that churchianity has 'lost the plot' when it comes to the fullness and completeness of all that Jesus has accomplished for us and the power of His grace. I'm afraid that many people have not really even tasted the true sweetness of pure grace. Maybe it's just the company I've been trying to keep lately - that is, people who encourage me in the grace of God - but I do see some amazing things happening in the world today, as far as the gospel beginning to mean "good news" again!


    That's great! I don't think we can get enough of the verses that follow John 3:16. :)