Over the last few days, I’ve noticed that lots of people have posted the words of John 3:16 on Twitter or on Facebook. Without wishing to sound heretical, I do find myself wondering what the point of this is.
I’m more than happy to acknowledge that John 3:16 is a wonderful verse of Scripture and it captures a central theme of the Gospel very well. Then again, Colossians 1:21 also captures the central theme of the Gospel as does Romans 1:16 and a number of other verses. I often wonder why John seems to get a better press than other writers – but that’s a question for another time.
My problem is that I’m not convinced that the words of John 3:16 (or the other verses I’ve mentioned) actually mean very much to most people today. Christians may understand this passage and find it very simple and straightforward, but it relies on a back-story which is simply not shared by most people in our culture today.
It could be that reading this verse might prompt people to ask some questions of it: Why are people perishing? How does God sending his Son give people eternal life? What is eternal life anyway and why would anyone want it?
However, I suspect that it just comes across to most people as something weird that Christians do.
As I wrote in another context:
Witnessing to Jesus is pointing people to a person so that they can come to know him for themselves. It isn’t about simple slogans – even if they are taken from the Bible. Holding up a placard saying “John 3:16″ at a sporting event is not witness; it just blocks the view for the guy behind you.