Canon J. John says that many people’s understanding of Christianity is really a misunderstanding. He tells City News why he sets out to demystify the message of Christ by tickling people’s funny bones.
By Dawn Seow
“A lot of people’s understanding of Christianity is a misunderstanding, and they are actually rejecting something they think is something else and not the real thing.”
This is a key message by Canon J. John’s, a creative Christian speaker and author of over 50 books, who spoke at City Harvest Church over the weekend of Feb. 18 and 19. He is also the founder of Philo Trust, a non-profit Christian organization, and husband to “my number one fan and number one critic” Killy. The couple have been married 28 years and have three sons, Michael, Simeon and Benjamin.
As for the question on everyone’s mind—what the J. stands for, it’s short for John. His first name, a Greek name, translates to “John”, and so, instead of calling himself “John John”, he goes by “J. John”.
So how does this misunderstanding of the gospel happen? “I think that misinformation about the gospel, distortion of truth happens very easily. In the course of human history, it is also very easy for people to rationalize,” says John, explaining the tendency for humans to explain things their own way. At the same time, “the church may not convey and communicate the message of the gospel well.” Given all this, the gospel remains misunderstood by many outside the church.
Laughter Is The Best Medicine
Those who heard John’s messages that weekend at CHC would know what an entertaining speaker he is. The simplicity of his message, together with his skillfulness in story-telling, brings a relatable and practical message of salvation to non-believers. His dry humor often causes his listeners to be more receptive of what he says.
“In life, we all like laughter and the Bible says that laughter is good medicine,” John says with a smile. Where does he get his inspiration? From Jesus! “I’m trying to use humor to convey a serious message. Now Judaism is full of humor, and most of Jesus’ humor was by exaggeration. He said, ‘before you take the speck out of other’s eye, take the telescopic pole out of your own eyes.’ It’s all very funny. And it helps people to be receptive and responsive.”
But the speaker is quick to clarify: “But I’m not trying to be a comedian. I’m just trying to be myself. The most important thing is to be ourselves.”
Love For People
Thirty years ago, John set up Philo Trust to bring the message of salvation to Britain and the rest of the world. “Philo is one of the Greek words for love; it basically means brotherly, sisterly love,” John said. “What led me to start this ministry was the fact that less than 7% of the population in Britain goes to church! I wanted to work and connect with the other 93% of the people who are not going to church.
“We are dedicated to teaching Christianity, teaching the church to evangelize, training evangelists and using technology. After 30 years of serving, every time I see someone come to Christ, it is always like the first time. Every time it happens, I think there is rejoicing in heaven and the angels are having a party. That still excites me.”
To John, doing ministry is as simple as “helping one person on his journey”. He says, “If I can help one person today, help another person tomorrow, I think that is good.”