My pastor had a good sermon this week, as he is apt to have. He began by saying that most every Christian home will tend to have certain objects in it. While letting us speculate on what he was thinking of, he told us that Christians are likely to have single scriptures displayed via refrigerator magnets or similar displays. He also said Twitter contains a lot of scripture verses, even as spam. With these instances, the same types of scriptures kept coming up.
So you can get an idea of what he was talking about, the most popular verses on social media were:
Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
Romans 8:18 – “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
These scriptures all sound pretty hopeful and positive. There is nothing wrong with that, and there is nothing wrong with having a scripture on a refrigerator magnet.
However my pastor wondered why no one ever put this on a refrigerator magnet:
Luke 6:46 – “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
Hmm. Funny, and he has a point.
But my pastor also said that one other thing is missing with short soundbites of scripture – context. And with scripture, context controls meaning.
Without context, we fall into the following pitfalls:
- A misunderstood truth
- An incomplete truth
- A truth disconnected from the larger will of God.
We can do two things to help us discern the meaning of scripture, besides simply reading it for ourselves.
- We can take it to those who can rightly explain it.
- We can take it to those who will help you understand how it applies in your life.
Yes, there are teachers who can help us understand. We don’t have to implicitly trust teachers, we do need to think for ourselves. But asking an pastor or elder who is usually someone older, or someone with more knowledge of experience walking with God – can be a good way to understand and make sense of scripture that we run across.
But besides teachers, we also need peer fellowship. Bible studies are a good way to help learn scripture together. We should learn from the insights and knowledge of others, and weed out information that doesn’t line up with other known scripture.
When I said “peer” fellowship, I don’t mean to imply that the teachers are on a different level – as Christians are all brothers and sisters with God as our Father. But the Bible says we should treat certain people with perhaps greater respect and gentleness.The Bible respects the old ones who have walked with God and have provided a Christian example to us.
“Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” – I Timothy 5:1-2
So, instead of simply having a verse on our refrigerator, we should think of even better places to display it.
Namely, in our hearts, in our actions, and in our fruits.We can’t just select a few scriptures only, we need to dig deeper, and sink roots deep in the rich and fertile soil of God’s word.
The pastor ended the sermon by quoting his puppet Barney that he uses for childrens’ stories:
“You haven’t learned the verse until you know what it means and do what it says.” :oD
Simple and childlike. Beautiful.