Most of you probably recited the words of this verse to yourself just now. “For God so loved the world, that he gave is one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Who doesn’t know this verse by heart, right? I could have recited it five years ago, two years before I became a believer.
People ask, “What’s your favorite bible verse?” and roll their eyes internally when someone pulls the John 3:16 card. When we’re asked to recite it in bible study we say it quickly and monotonously, like we’re naming off elements on the periodic table in chemistry. What is it about this verse that we seem to find so boring? Is it cliché? Is it overstated? Is it ‘basic’?
What made us stop hearing the words?
I’m making my way through the book Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes, and a passage early on in the book really stuck out to me (nearly bringing me to tears the first time I read it). A woman named Carol in the author’s bible study many years ago had just accepted Christ and was surrounded by women who were very well-versed in the Scriptures. At some point in the bible study, Carol was so excited to share “the most wonderful verse she’d found last night!” She then proceeded to read the verse slowly, completely awestruck by it. “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.”
“The quiet in the room was palpable. She was reading John 3:16—a verse many believers memorize from childhood and can prattle off in seconds—as it should be read, as if each word were a holy treasure.”
– Barbara Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Woman, p. 28
There is nothing simple, boring, overrated, basic, or cliché about this verse. John 3:16 is the Gospel, and the Gospel is the foundation for everything we are and everything we do (Colossians 3:17). God loved you and me so much he chose to sacrifice his Son so we can live an eternal life with a fullness we can’t even fathom–how are you not amazed?
Let us not lose that childlike wonder, no matter how many times we hear of the glory of God.
This post was inspired by the absolute fire book ‘Disciplines of a Godly Woman’ by Barbara Hughes. We all need some (or a lot of) discipline in our lives, and we all need a little (or a lot of) help getting there! Go get yourself a copy, you won’t regret it!