“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (Reference: John 3:16-20)
There was a time, and I think there will be again, when a sign with “John 3:6” was taken to sporting events and held up by someone in the crowd as an evangelistic tool. However, I do not remember seeing it of late. Perhaps that is because such public evangelism is not common or well accepted. In fact the more I think about it, the more I realize I cannot remember seeing it on any televised sporting program. Maybe that is because I do not watch much televised sports. But I suspect is it more likely that is a tradition that has passed away. It used to be quite common, beloved.
And as I think about it even more, I miss that. I did not take much notice or give much regard to it, but there is something sad about not bringing God with you in that way. Where is might God be missing in our public world? Or is that too big a “can of worms” to open; for those of you who don’t know that expression, it means too large a topic to be handled by just one person posting one blog on one website. God is missing a lot in our public world – that is my point. And to try to enumerate the number of places that God is missing would take much to long.
The greatest thing, and the most tragic thing, is that despite the fact that God is not as visible in our world . . . God still loves the world. Never regretted sending the Son of God, and does not take back the offer of eternal life. God does not condemn the world but still tries to save it . . . every day . . . through the Son of God. But if God not being visible in our world means the world does not believe in God and the Son of God, the world is in a lot of trouble. Because just because we have made God absent in our world does not mean we have escaped the consequences, and the condemnation. The words of John 3:16 and following still apply. If the world, men and women, love the darkness and evil more than the light, than darkness is their fate.
Does that mean if we hold up signs proclaiming John 3:16 the world will be saved? No beloved. It does not work like that. If every person at every sporting event from now until the end of time held up a sign like that but STILL loved darkness more than light and fled the light of God to do in darkness their sin . . . well, you get the point.
Believe in God is more than risking one’s reputation etc by holding up such signs. Believe in God means living it out day by day in both public and private ways. It means authentic faith that is guided by God and Christ. Moreover, we cannot just pick and chose how we will follow God and believe. It means following all the tenets of faith as Christ laid them out through his life, death, and resurrection. It means our loving God and the world in response to God’s love for us.
Menno Simons wrote, “Because men do not acknowledge the God of all grace in His divine Word, judgment, and beneficences; and do not acknowledge the Spirit, power, will, and life which was in Christ Jesus whom we should follow according to the Word of God; therefore they so wrongfully oppose and persecute the heavenly doctrine of Jesus Christ, and diligently follow, teach, and promote all manner of falsehood, deceit, fraud, and idolatry. I repeat, if they rightly acknowledged and believed the paternal heart, mind and love, protection, favor, will, solicitude and affection of the Almighty God in Christ Jesus, they would no doubt accept, and from the heart fulfill, His blessed Word and admonition. But since they do not rightly acknowledge Christ Jesus and His Father, therefore the Saviour’s words are fulfilled . . . John 3:16-19.” In Simons’ time there were no sporting events to hold up signs at. I’m not sure what he would think about that “modern” practice. But I think he would approve of the reminder to heed the words of the writer of the gospel of John.
May you beloved find signs in your life and in the world that remind you to believe in God and emulate the example the Christ gave us. Selah!