Speaking of stadium signs, if you Google John 3:16 images, you get a photo of this guy, the Rainbow Man, who carried his John 3:16 sign to major events throughout the 70's and 80's. Which seems sort of sweet and kooky until you read further and learn that he's in prison for life for kidnapping. For goodness sake, how did these 26 words of love beget such an act of violence?
Which is just the first of the long list of questions I bring to this week's text, and in particular verse 16. What is the power of this one scripture verse anyway? And what is its purpose? Is it a slogan? A test? A cipher? Is it helpful to rip it out of context, as it so often is? And if you read the poetic, mysterious words around it, does that clarify or obfuscate the meaning?
Maybe the power of this scripture is more in the questions it raises than the facile answers it seems to provide. If you are interested in walking the text down that road, you might find illumination in David Lose's recent Huff Post column in which he views the recent Rob Bell controversy through the lens of this week's lectionary:
Interestingly, the word for "world" (kosmos in Greek) everywhere else in the Gospel of John describes that entity that is at complete enmity with God... This gives John 3:16 a bit more punch: "For God so loved the God-hating world that he sent his only Son ," we might accurately translate. Apparently, at least according to Jesus, God really, really, really loves the world.
'Course, you don't have to be preaching the gospel to be preaching the good news. What are you focussing on this week? Chime in - comments are open!