This devotional by former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer is featured in The Increase’s 21-Day YouVersion Devotional. Start this plan to hear more articles by Pro Athletes.
As you’re making your way through the Football Sunday Daily Reading Plan, you might get to this day and feel like you can skip over it. Not because of me, or because of the story I tell. But because I’m asking you to read a verse that you’ve read over and over again.
It’s a verse that many of us memorized as children or youth. It’s the most widely-quoted verse in the world. It’s written on poster board and displayed at NFL games to millions of people, as the football is kicked through the goalposts.
But I wonder if we’ve inadvertently watered down the profound nature of this verse, simply because we’re too familiar with it. We can recite it without feeling or even considering its weight. Today, I’m asking you to read it slowly and deliberately. It’ll be worth it.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” — John 3:16
GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD. . .
He doesn’t hate the world. He doesn’t sit in Heaven and make fun of the world. He doesn’t barely tolerate the world. He doesn’t love only Christians, or the people who attend our home churches, or people who share our political views. He loves every human in every corner of every nation. Period.
. . . THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON . . .
How much does God love every human in our world? Enough to offer His only Son as a way into intimate relationship with us. We’re worth that to Him. We’re worth enough that He willingly handed His only Son over to death. Not just any death, but the cruelest and most brutal death known to the world at that time. Roman hands—that God created and whose owners He loved—were used to pin His only Son to a cross.
. . . SO THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM. . .
That’s our response. It’s a free gift, but we need to accept it. Accepting the gift means more than giving intellectual assent to some ancient doctrine. Belief in Jesus means choosing to follow Jesus—not in rules-based legalism, but in response to the great love He’s shown us. It wouldn’t make any sense at all to follow Jesus everywhere if we didn’t really believe in Him. We don’t do that in any other area of our lives, so why would we consider it with God?
. . . WILL NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.
That’s the reward. Eternal life. Life in the here and now, and forever in eternity. It’s not a bad deal: He dies in our place, we follow His every step, we live with Him forever.
So if you’re still reading, you’re wondering why I chose this familiar passage. It’s because I can relate all too well to a Father who gives up His Son. While I’ll never understand what it would take for a Father to willingly give up His only son, I do understand what if feels like to lose an only son.
If you experience my story at The Increase, you’ll quickly discover that, even though football has occupied the majority of my life, my story is not a football story. Please come to the site and meet me and my son Trevin.
If you enjoyed this article, please share: