John 3:16 is not offensive no matter who you are

If you were watching football this past weekend, you may have seen the ad from Focus on the Family ; a reading of John 3:16. (see ad embedded below) The ad was purchased by Focus on that Family and aired during a game in which Tim Tebow played.  This verse was what Tebow used to write under his eyes in paint before games and it also happened to be the same number of passing yards he had during last week’s game.  This naturally sparked interest leading many people to go looking up the verse to see what it actually said.   That in itself is remarkable.  Recognizing an opportunity here to share what the verse said, Focus on the Family wisely pulled together a short video that shared the verse.  I thought it was a wise investment of the limited resources of  a non-profit organization.

But, that’s me.  The militant atheists are out in full force again denouncing this as offensive and polarizing.  One comment on the Facebook post of the video said, “leave your religion out of my football.”

This got me thinking because comments like that are loaded with assumptions about religion and the proper place for it.  But all that aside for a moment, I can’t see how this verse could be offensive to anyone.  What is offensive about God loving the world and saving them from sin?  Even if you don’t believe in God, there is no way this is a polarizing message.  No one is forcing religion on anyone or making any group of people feel less important.  The video was of kids reading the verse. There was nothing else said and no appeal to convert to Christianity.

If people are so upset over a verse of the Bible being read while their kids watch football,  fearing it might corrupt their minds, what about all the other ‘religions’ that are being fed to them during football games?  As I watched this weekend, I did not have to wait long to notice offensive beer commercials.  My kids are young and don’t understand it all, but these ads are filled with innuendo and a false reality that shows how ‘awesome’ life is with that product.

This is a hot topic for me as the Super Bowl is only a few weeks away.  The Super Bowl has long been the venue where companies put out some of their best commercials.  Unfortunately in recent years the quality of these commercials has been in steady decline.  This year I wonder how many times will I have to change the channel?  The commercials of the scantily clad women, inappropriate jokes and movies that have offensive content are a certainty.  Why can they put their ‘religion’ in my football?  Why does it not offend people that beer commercials have a ‘polarizing’ message?  If I don’t drink it will I really not be accepted or have adequate man points? The one I saw this weekend seemed to say that.  Are they selling a product?  Really?  These advertisers have their own agendas and have paid for their spots, just like any religious group would have to.

My point is that I would much rather have positive messages during commercial breaks than a bunch of lies about products that will really not perform as promised.  But, if the company wants to purchase an ad, then the network has every right to run it.  If a Christian organization wants to run an ad, why can’t they?  If an atheist group wants to buy an ad, then I say go for it.  Focus on the Family purchased the advertisement slot just like everyone else.  Calling for a boycott or sending hate mail to the network is ridiculous and a waste of time.

With the amount of junk on television, it is getting harder to find anything that I don’t have to apologize to my kids for.   It is a challenge to watch supposedly innocent programs, knowing that it will just be ruined during a commercial break.

The nice part about that, though, is that if you don’t like the product,you don’t buy it. If you don’t want to watch the commercials, then don’t. Of course, with a DVR the only commercials we see are during sporting events.  For this John 3:16 ad the same is true; if you don’t like that God sent His son for you, then go get a snack during the commercial or turn it off for a minute.  We still have freedom of speech in this country and it is important we defend that right.

Thank you Focus on the Family for stepping out and using the resources wisely. May God increase your influence and reach people with the Gospel as a result of your ministry.



  1. “What is offensive about God loving the world and saving them from sin?”

    You mean besides the fact that it was supposedly done with human sacrifice, substitutional atonement, and the idea that most of the people in the world will burn forever in the fires of Hell?

    1. I am talking about this specific ad and the one verse. My point is that the message is not a negative one – “God loves you and saves.” Maybe people don’t like that or agree with it or want anything to do with it, but the message is still positive.

      1. Ah, but my objection to the commercial promoting John 3:16 is the same objection you have to other commercials: “My point is that I would much rather have positive messages during commercial breaks than a bunch of lies about products that will really not perform as promised”

        1. But, as the next sentence said, if an organization buys an ad then the network can run it. I don’t like the negative messages during commercial breaks but I recognize that it is part of the world we live in. The double standard is what gets to me. If this ad is not allowed because it is Christian, then why allow anything? I know I am biased, but aren’t we all? — As a side, thank you for disagreeing with me in a respectful way. Not everyone does that and I appreciate it very much.

          1. I don’t think the ad shouldn’t be allowed. Of course it should. But I understand why people might be annoyed by it or offended by it.

            Apologies if it came across as if I was saying that the ad shouldn’t have been allowed.

        2. What product did the commercial promote that was a lie or that was misrepresented? Surely not that God loves YOU. Or maybe that Christ was born? No, it was the part about ever-lasting life. That’s got to be it! But then Derek, he has a point also. Over consumption of beer causes you to forget your problems, while you’re passed out. Smoking, and I’m a smoker, mellows your brain and at the same time rots your lungs. Male enhancement drugs may help you in the sack, but do they make you a better man. Better husband, better father, better listener or a better worker. And lingerie( yep, I went there) is like wrapping paper. It may give the present a better outward appearance than newspaper, but the present is still the same on the inside. But all this is irrelevant when others don’t want to hear what’s being said. Thanks again Derek. God Bless You!

  2. Hi there. I had just heard about this guy last night (the footballer) and was so amazed and so I am delighted to read more … “coincidences” like the distance matching the vverse are not really coincidences … apparently he walks in incredible favour. It came up as a group of us told God stories .. one of which was a new Christian that has been so heavily inundated with the presence of God that it is tangible in her home and people are staying for hours … one mum who has an autistic son and nevr goes anywhere for longer than an hour or two stayed there for 6 hours and the child was apparently extraordinarily peaceful … this friends daughter laughed for ages in her sleep the night the family were touched and after the daughter had prayed for joy to invade her dreams and to chase nightmares away … God is Good!

    1. There are no coincidences. They showed this video during a football game and many people have been upset about it. I think it is great. There is interest in God’s Word, so it is a good thing for sure.

  3. I think there was a statement made the day the Broncos beat the favorite Steelers. Did you see Tebow’s stats for that game? His total passing yardage for that game was 316 yards I read. And he had so many completions out of so many attempts But his ‘yardage per completion stat was 31.6 yards per completion. I think that is so cool. I want to do a Tebowism right now. Its like God took the time to watch some football that day and I think he was pulling for Tim. Did you see that last play? How else would he get those stats?

    1. It is worth paying attention to for sure and it created quite the interest. This was certainly not a coincident, although I would not go so far as to say God joined the Broncos. I do realize an argument could be made given that they are the Broncos, but that is another story. I did see the last play and was amazed he could actually throw the ball. I watched this last game and was not impressed. But, the real cool thing for me was how Focus on the Family took advantage of their platform and used resources to speak to it. I love it. I read some blogs that were angry about the whole thing. People just need to lighten up and enjoy it.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I missed it. It is the double standard that gets me too — everything but Christianity. It’s, for some, as if they are saying, “How dare you imply I am a sinner or need saved.” Thanks to Focus and those like you who stand up for all of us. Angie

  5. This is like the school eradicating Christianity but teaching about Wicca, astrology, and other such nonsense. I totally agree with you – the other ads are teaching their own religion and are offensive to me too. I vote with my dollars and for many of them, I vote a “no”. FOTF, FRC, Prison Fellowship and the others get a big old “yes”.

    Great topic.

    1. I read a blog where someone ranted about how people are actually favoring Christianity. Where? I don’t see that at all. You are right about the eradication of anything Christian. They seem to tolerate everything except Jesus. I like to call them out on it.

  6. Thanks for following up on this Derek,
    Do you think it would help if you added Verse 17 to it? This is the ONLY way that I quote it. These two verses are the basis for my life. They are the reason that I don’t judge and condemn others. Of course, I guess we’re like Noah. People in his day thought that he was crazy because they had never seen rain before. Kind of like folks today have never seen God! Unfortunately, when they do, it will be too late!! That’s NOT judgmental, it’s just fact. But, like I said earlier in one of my posts, plant the seed and move on. They may grow or they may wither. YOU are not in control. As for the commercial, it was paid for just like all the rest. Time for them to grow up and move on. God Bless You, Grant

    1. No, I am not in control. All we can do is tell the truth and let God do the work in hearts. Some people will ignore it. I didn’t get all the anger over the commercial. It is a paid ad like any other, you are right. Thanks.

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