I love John 3:16–17 (it’s really one thought so it seems a bit strange to cut it in half). I love the message of hope it can bring us in this crazy world. And yet, I know too many people who seem to love rushing to the verses beyond and using them as hammers of judgment to hit others with. They want to swing those hammers to proclaim condemnation to anyone they don’t like, having just experience some of the most hope-filled verses in the entire Bible. I don’t quite get it.
In the face of all that, I offer a paraphrase of John 3:16–21. It’s a looser paraphrase than I usually do, but I think it captures the sense of the thing. You’re free to use it, but please include the copyright note at the end.
A paraphrase of John 3:16–21
So here’s the thing:
God loves the world. God loves the world so much, God was willing to send Jesus knowing how brutal the world would be to Jesus’ message. God was willing to send Jesus into this place of greed and anger and racism and sexism and homophobia because God knew that we needed to hear the message of unconditional, everlasting love that God has for us.
Let’s be clear: God did not send Jesus into the world to judge it, but to offer us instead a word of hope. To invite us – challenge us, if you will – to find new ways to love and accept and celebrate one another, and together to work for more peaceful solutions to our problems.
If we hop on board with that message and share it with others – through our words and our actions – we can change the world, and we can change our own lives. We can find ways to live that bring us hope and purpose. We can help those who feel they have no choice but to continue living in a cesspit of hopelessness, of greed and violence and so on. There are, of course, those who are going to prefer living that kind of life no matter what, and that’s sad. But we have the opportunity to share a message that can bring the world out of its shadows and into the brightness of a new day. If we can do that, then why wouldn’t we?
In the face of all that’s going on, why would we not want to embrace that simple message and share it with others? It’s the best hope we’ve got.
Copyright © Donald Schmidt 2021. www.revdonald.ca