More Than John 3:16
A few years ago, I asked someone if they knew the verse John 3:16. She said, "Of course. It's the verse about love." I figured, Good for her! I should have let her finish.
"You know, 'Love is patient. Love is kind.' All that stuff that love is."
For those of you who don't have it memorized, John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
The verse my friend was referring to is actually from 1 Corinthians 13.
John 3:16 is the centerpiece of the good news about Jesus Christ, and there's good reason why this is probably the most popular and most memorized verse in Christendom. But we should remember one really important thing:
John 3:16 is a summary of a story.
Now, sometimes a summary of a story is all we need. Our culture prides itself on being oriented towards the bottom line, and we like stories that can be summarized quickly and neatly. Get to the point! Give us the bullet list and save us the details or rhetorical flourishes.
But sometimes your soul needs more than a summary. Sometimes your soul needs the story. Sometimes the story is the point.
Imagine your English professor standing before you on the first day of class and saying, "Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Parents hate each other and object to their relationship. Boy and girl disobey parents. Girl fakes death. Boy drinks poison. Girl kills herself. The end. Now you don't have to read Romeo and Juliet."
Sometimes having the summary of the story just isn't the same.
And so it is with the good news of Jesus Christ. We don't need the summary; we need the story. We need more than John 3:16; we need Genesis and Revelation. We need the grand, sweeping narrative to come alive, draw us in, take our hearts and minds captive and provide us with a new lens through which to interpret life.
That is, after all, what a good story does. And this is, after all, the greatest story ever.