During my one year spent teaching high school Bible, I had students all over the mountain of intellectual arrogance. In my Sophomore homeroom, a few guys had planted their flag on the summit.
One morning a certain young man named Cliff was assigned the devotion. Yes, I know. Assigning devotions to unwanting high school boys ain’t the recipe for spiritual insight. But that’s the way it was done.
When I asked Cliff to come forward for the devotion, it was clear he hadn’t prepared a thing. I didn’t expect otherwise, but rules were rules. So he stepped to the front of the room.
Cliff ruffled through the pages of a Bible he stole from a friend and stopped suddenly in the New Testament. He slapped his finger on a verse and looked up with a sly smile. He cleared his throat and read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” He slammed the Bible closed and began walking back to his seat. He had done his duty and didn’t want to say anymore.
That wasn’t going to work for me. If Cliff didn’t have anything to teach us, then I had something to teach him.
“Cliff, answer me one question,” I said, stopping him in his tracks. “Since you appear to believe the meaning of John 3:16 is self-evident, what is the significance of the word ‘so’ in Jesus’ expression ‘God so loved the world’?”