Remember the man in the rainbow-colored Afro wig who carried the “John 3:16” sign?  During the 70 and 80s, he seemed to be everywhere: at televised baseball and football games, shuttle launches and hundreds of other events.
So, who was he, and whatever happened to him?
  His name is Rollen Stewart. He claimed to have a conversion experience and became a born-again Christian. He felt called by God to demonstrate his faith with that sign “John 3:16”.  When the rush began to fade, Stewart became more volatile.  He became convinced that God had given him a sign to use more negative tactics.  His personal life became a wreck. By the 1990’s, he was homeless and living in his own car.  His wife left him. 
  In September of 1992, he went over the edge.  Rollen locked himself in a hotel room in Los Angeles Hyatt and made threats to shoot airplanes landing and taking off at nearby LAX Airport.  He held a Hyatt maid hostage in his room. He plastered religious verses on the windows.  After an 8 hour standoff, SWAT teams broke into his room and found a handgun, two ammunition clips and 47 live ammunition rounds.  Stewart is serving out three life terms in Mule Creek Prison in Lone, California.

  Joseph Price, a religion professor at Whitter College, stated that Stewart was motivated by getting attention for himself.  He said, “It was more ego-driven, than an affirmation of religious invitation.”  

  How could a man end up like Rollen Stewart when he was promoting John 3:16?
Because you can carry a sign and not live by what it says.  You can even know what the sign says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” but not internalize it. John 3:16 is the message but the messengers has got to believe it and live it.

  I believe that we will be judge by motives, desires and intents of the heart.  We will not be saved by external demonstrations, except as they come from the heart.  God looks on the heart not on outward appearances. It is all summed up in this verse in Galatians 5:6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” 

May we so conduct ourselves that others can see our faith through our love.

6 Responses to “THE RAINBOW MAN/JOHN 3:16”

  1. Max , Thank you for this one ! John 3″16 is one of my favorites.I read this and thought, :” just think how many people he could have influenced had he not messed up” !
    Christ Followers need to be so careful in every thing they do and say so they will reflect Jesus.
    Love and Prayers, Joann

  2. What a shame that Rollen Stewart’s life took a turn for the worse. As most of us know, one of Tim Tebow’s favorite verses is also John 3:16, but look at how he lives the word and how many lives he has influenced in a positive way. A coincidence that he passed 316 yards at the Pittsburgh game? I don’t think so…
    Thanks, Max, for the great story and reminder.

  3. What a shame he started out strong and finished so poorly. It could happen to any of us unless we stay in the Word and grow. This is a good reminder that we need to seek Christ every day and stay in his Word…and love others.

  4. Good Monday Morning Max,

    I have preached several sermons concerning Rollen Stewart and his efforts to be seen with ‘JOHN 3:16’ …. Several different sermons there …. In fact I will incorporate this once again (with the Spirits Leading) into a message about ‘Knowing about God’ is not the same as ‘Knowing God’ …. Thanks for the reminder.

    Serving God by serving others

  5. “For God so loved: the street children of the Philipines that with God’s love someone went to the Philipines to show God’s love to the children. Tonight I saw the movie of how this event happened. They learned about Jesus’ love and their lives changed drastically not only with food, clothing and shelter, but they no longer stole, or felt worthless. Now they had hope with a future for this life as well as for eternity.Some of them would teach other children on the streets of this love.Showing how a caterpillar would change into a beautiful butterfly helped to understand the change that could be made with Christ’s love. A wonderful happening!

  6. Not to judge, but I remember seeing that guy on TV as a kid, and you had to wonder if Jesus would do that, and the answer was a resounding NO. The wig, the mugging at the camera….an obvious publicity stunt. I thought it to be just as silly and ineffective as someone dressed as Santa Claus holding up verses from the Koran. That’s not really going to be an effective witness. So when he flipped out and got jailed, it was no surprise to me. I think the lesson is that the more people draw attention to themselves in the name of Christ, the more discerning we should be about their true motives. It all goes back to “would Jesus act this way?”

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