For the past two weeks, Tim Tebow has dominated sports talk shows, magazines, and water cooler talk. While much of the talk has been centered around his athletic skills (or, depending on who you talk to, the lack thereof), a great deal of this discussion has been focused on matters of faith—In particular, John 3:16.
The Huffington Post ran an article about the phenomena. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association‘s peacewithGod.net website is keyed to searches for "John 3:16." They documented more than 150 professions of faith in Christ as a result people searching the verse during and after the Broncos win over Pittsburgh. Focus on the Family even recorded a last-minute, and extremely well-done, commercial featuring the verse which aired during Denver’s game against the Patriots this past Saturday night.
Some will mock the claims by the BGEA. Some will scorn Focus on the Family for their religious commercial during a sporting event. Neither is justified nor appropriate. While the vitriol may be aimed at Tebow, the BGEA, or Focus, we must realize (as we see in 1 Corinthians 1:18) "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing." But the verse does not end there. It also reminds us this very same "message of the cross" (revealed in God’s Word, the Bible) is "God’s power to us who are being saved." God’s Word does not return in vain; no matter what social or sports commentators may say.
When I hear stories like this of people coming to Christ just by reading or hearing the word, I can’t help but remember a conversation Nellie Jo and I had in 2004 with a former Mormon couple from Utah while preparing to write my book The Unexpected Journey. We met with Rauni and Dennis Higley to hear their faith story. Rauni told us of how she heard the gospel for the first time through a set of commentary tapes given to her by a friend. Then Dennis told us of the powerful effect the Scriptures had on him.
"She (Rauni) listened to all twenty-two tapes in no time. Yep, she started asking me to listen to the tapes. I told her no."
Dennis may have lost the battle, but he would still show his stubbornness. "I sat down to listen to the first tape, and I literally turned my back to the recorder. The man on the tape then began to explain John 1:1. For forty-five minutes he explained one verse and who Jesus is. Who the Word is. Forty years of my life, and I had never heard this explained." Dennis paused. The moment was one of deep emotion. "There it was. This was incredible. I turned the chair around and asked Rauni, ‘What’s on the second one?’ I started taking notes, writing in my Bible for the first time. We finished the second tape."
Dennis explained his next step. "I told Rauni we ought to start the study over with our daughters. For the next year and a half, we studied the Bible together on Sunday as a family. It was incredible."
"All of this was so very incredible," Rauni offered. "I realized that I had found through the Gospel of John that Jesus is God; He is God with us; He really is God." Rauni was no longer able to hold her tears. "I finally just fell down on my face," she said, weeping. "I said, ‘Lord, come into my life, take over my life.’ I was so convicted that Jesus is God…"
Rauni and Dennis were transformed through power of the Word of God. His power and His truth spoke through a set of commentary tapes to two former Mormons and radically reshaped their lives. So when I hear scoffers rebuke or mock evangelistic efforts like those of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association or Focus on the Family, or even the faith of Tim Tebow, I rest in this: I’ve seen God’s Word transform lives. Dozens and dozens of lives. Mine included.
Has it transformed yours?