Back in 2008, the now quarterback for the Denver Bronco’s, Tim Tebow created quite an internet sensation when he wore “John 3:16” under his eyes during the NCAA championship game. In fact, over ninety million people looked up this familiar verse online over the next 24 hours. There was a lot of buzz about it at the time, but what struck me was the fact that nearly one-third of the population of the United States needed to look it up to find out what it said. Keep in mind that this number doesn’t include those who looked it up in the dust-covered bible on their bookshelf. It also underscored for me that making assumptions can be a bad course of action.
Most of us who grew up going to Sunday school or attending, as an adult, a bible centered church memorized John 3:16 or heard it quoted often enough to know it, chapter and verse. But how many people does that really represent? The reality is that the vast majority of our neighbors, coworkers and friends have no idea what the verse says or that the reference is from the bible. This goes to a larger issue, that making assumptions about what people know or don’t know about God, in Christ, is foolish. Have you ever said to yourself, “I’m not going to bore them again by repeating what they already know; it would be a waste of time.” It’s like when you were a kid and somebody talked down to you and you replied, “Why, everybody knows that.” When in reality it was new news to you. The bottom line is that there are some things in life that bear repeating time and time again, so go ahead, and tell them again.
The second thing that struck me was how important memorizing bible verses can be in everyday life. I didn’t attend a bible centered church as a kid; in fact I didn’t start memorizing Scripture until I was in seminary at the age of forty. What I have learned over the last twenty years is how having God’s Word tucked away in my mind, always immediately available, has helped me to avoid situations where I might be tempted to slide backward into the sin that “so easily entangles.” It’s one way we can work at losing our way back to our old sin life and keep ourselves, lost in the presence of God. One practical help that I used, was suggested by a Sunday school teacher to a bunch of first and second graders. Set the verse to a familiar song or tune that you already know and before you know it, you’ll know it and remember it. Give it try…it really works!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16