Usually TV is not my thing. But I am addicted to two TV shows. I feel twitchy when I think that something is going to prevent me from getting my fix of Downton Abbey or the Voice. Downton is now in re-runs since the season finale and the Voice is in battle rounds. Among the many things I love about these shows is how they give a window into lives; one fictional, the other not so much.

This season of the Voice, I am finding that myself really in love with Meghan Trainor. And, believe it or not, until crafting this post I had never heard her song, “All About that Bass.”  What I am loving about Meghan is seeing how very real she presents herself to be. And this has led me to think about John 3—not just vv. 14-21, but John 3:1-21.

Now I am not going into the text—if that’s something you desire from this post, then go instead to my post entitled, “Snakes on a plane? Nope. Snakes on the ground and snakes in the grass”.

The focus of this post is the base. When John 3:1-21 is boiled down to the core we are left with the base. And it really is all about this base. We have two views to take on this pericope—both offer us insight into life. Either the base is God lifting up Christ on the cross, or the base is our ability to believe.

  • If the base is Jesus lifted up on the cross then we have much hope, for an everlasting divine remedy is in effect, and is making a difference in a terminal human malady. And if this is the base, then the base of our trust is God.
  • If the base is the human ability to believe, then we hang our hopes on an ephemeral human remedy to a terminal human malady. And if this is the base, then the base of our trust is us.

Only one of these options is authentic. The other option is an idolatrous illusion. One offers freedom and hope. The other offers fear wrapped around an illusion of control.

One offers abundant life. The other offers us slavery to our own sense of security in our own reliance on our own ability to believe.

One looks like a gift, the other an eternity of second-guessing.

It really is all about that base. The base of this text is Jesus lifted up on the cross as God’s manner of freely loving God’s creation. The result of the lifting up is light. And the promise the light makes of Himself is this, “Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, [I] will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:31-32 NRSV)

If God’s lifting up of Jesus is the base——and it is—-then John 3, and perhaps, v.16 in particular, ought to be preached as a cosmic love-fest of eternal proportion rather than mis-preached as a chance for humans to fool themselves into thinking that their here-today-gone-tomorrow trust in their own ability to believe offers them anything other than a lifetime of anxious pondering over whether their ability to believe is good enough, strong enough, efficacious enough to save them….and it can’t save them……FOR HUMAN ABILITIES ARE NOT THE BASE!”

When we think we are the base then we are in a world of hurts—-we are worshiping the idol of our ability to believe. A dear friend, Hugh Rhea, once told me in the wee hours of the morning as we were pondering God—-“I have come to realize that anything that has it’s origin in me is sin because sin always grows out of the self.” Hugh realized that he was a human and that were he to be the base, then sin would be the fruit born in and out of him. He also realized that if God were the base, then the fruit would be life everlasting in the love of a Father whose manner of loving us is the lifting up of a Son whose act of dying and rising deals with sin.

Come Sunday—make it all about God as base. To do otherwise is to lift up human-ability-to-believe as an idol.

Happy Preaching!