Today’s blog explores John 3:16, the scripture passage oft-quoted at sporting events and the focus of yesterday’s Gospel. Is there a way to view this reading that eliminates the walls of separation and exclusion?
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
John 3: 16
The Trouble With 3:16
At first glance, this reading may seem harmless enough, but if we take the reading at face value, and listen to the typical interpretation of this reading (and its surrounding text), it kind of says, If you don’t proclaim Jesus Christ to be your personal Lord and Savior, you will perish and spend an eternity in hell. I never really believed in this kind of exclusive arrangement anyway – that there is only room in eternity for Christians….specifically those in “good standing,” but after 20+ years of contemplation of scripture and study of not only Catholic theology, but of the teachings and practices of our Jewish, Moslim, Pagan, Hindu, Buddhist, Native American and Yogic brothers and sisters, I really have a problem believing that there is only room in “heaven” for those who proclaim Jesus Christ to be their personal Lord and Savior. (For you Catholics out there, it might interest you to know that the Vatican II Documents support the possibility of heaven for everyone. So apparently this concept of exclusivity was problematic to the Vatican II Fathers as well. YAY Vatican II!) So in the past several years when John 3:16 would show up in the cycle of readings, I would either cringe or just close my ears and write it off as irrelevant. That was until I discovered the work of Neil Douglas-Klotz.
Enlightment Through Translations
Among other things, Neil Douglas-Klotz is an author – specifically on the topic of bridging the gaps between Christianity, Islam and Judaism. His work centers on a prayerful and more accurate translation of ancient texts which helps us to better understand the teacher/author’s intentions. Two of his works especially have had a HUGE impact on my own spiritual journey and my relationship to Christian scripture: Prayers of the Cosmos and The Hidden Gospel. Thanks to these works, I have a broader and deeper perspective on The Lord’s Prayer, The Beatitudes and many of Jesus’ reported sayings and teachings. I am grateful for the way in which Douglas-Klotz’s work has eliminated the separation and tension that I have often felt in the traditional viewings of scripture. So, without further ado…..I offer to you today a different perspective on John 3:16 that arose out of my prayer and was supported by Douglas-Klotz’s work. I hope that if you too have struggled with the separation often caused by the traditional interpretation of this reading that this new perspective will give you room to breathe.
John 3:16 – a New Perspective
For God so loved the world that God planted within all of humanity a spark of Divine truth and the restlessness that compels them to seek this truth.
And God so loved the world that God made it such that all of humanity would have the ability to rediscover, cultivate and fully embrace this truth and come to the realization of their wholeness and their Oneness with God.
And God so loved the world that God called all of humanity Sons and Daughters of God and knew that some would discover this spark of truth before others. Those that discover and embody this truth would find relief from the suffering of the human condition; suffering that is the natural consequence of forgetting this truth. Those that discover and embody this truth are called prophets and come from all walks of life, all cultures, races, genders, ethnicities, religious beliefs and sexual orientations. Those who through this truth come to self-realization and self-actualization are then compelled to share this truth with others so that they too may be saved.
God so loved the world that God gave humanity the gift of free will so that they could decide if and when they are ready to discover and embrace this truth. Those who are not yet ready to embrace this truth are no less saved than the rest, they are merely unripe. For those who are not yet ready to embrace this truth, God lovingly and patiently awaits their ripening. For those that believe in this truth in the same way that the prophets believe in this truth, experience heaven on earth – a life of abundant joy, peace, compassion and bliss.
God so loved the world that God gave humanity each other that they might remember this truth……and this truth is LOVE.
Authentic Freedom Ministries
Remember the Love That You Are!