Where has “Bannerman” gone?
I have vague recollections of the Moscow Summer Olympics in 1980, but the first Olympics I have clear memories of were the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. These were the games in which the rivalry between Zola Bud and Mary Decker for the Women’s 3000m was hyped, only for neither of then to do terribly well given they clashed causing Decker to fall and Bud to limp on, trailing in 7th with Romanian, Maricica Puică, winning the race. This was also the Olympics of Carl Lewis, and Daley Thompson, and Seb Coe’s wagging finger after winning the 1,500m.
As well as the athletes it was the Olympics of “bannerman” and “bannerwoman”!
“Banner who”? I hear you ask?
This was the era where at every major sporting event in the USA the TV cameras would spot and show someone in the crowd with a yellow banner with black writing on it saying “John 3:16.” This person became known as “bannerman” and even managed to have a song written about them.
Perhaps bannerman still exists – I don’t watch as many sports from the USA as I did when I was a teen – but my impression is that it is a long time since I’ve spotted bannerman at a sporting event.
I wonder why that is?
This is not a question I plan to try and answer on Sunday morning, but we do plan to look at John 3:16 in its wider context of John 3: 13 – 21.
I’m writing this on Tuesday, so I’ve a bit more thinking and praying to do before Sunday, but what stands out to me as I read this passage are the words, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Bannerman in a digital age?
I don’t know about you, but more often than I’d like, I find it easier to be negative, or to find fault, than I do to be positive. I have no problems in finding things in “the world” to condemn …indeed I fancy that if it was an Olympic Sport condemning things & people would be one Christians would excel in.
Perhaps in our digital age, that is what Bannerman is doing. He/she is busy creating memes and Facebook posts condemning things left, right, and centre.
Far from the Gospel
Participation in a new Olympic Sport of condemning things & people would be far from the Gospel we are called to share. Yet, as church and as Christians, “the world” knows us best not for loving the world, but for being against this, that, and the next thing.
How did we get here? How are we to love the world as God loves it?
A Gordian knot?
This is what I hope we can explore on Sunday morning. Clearly it is an issue that has some nuance to it. After all, 1 John 2:15 says we have not to love the world!
Are John’s gospel and John’s first epistle contradicting each other, or is there a subtle and important truth for us to grasp as we wrestle with this which will help us shine like stars as we hold fast to the word of life (Phil 2:15 – 16)?
Come along on Sunday and find out.
Yours in Christ.