Question: Taking Bible Verses Out of Context

danideewantsitall asked:

Hi there! What do you think of people taking scriptures “out of context”? For example, I was talking with my friends about Philippians 4:13, which is often used as encouragement. My friends said that it’s harmful to consistently quote that verse out of context, since that verse is, of course, part of a much larger story, but I say what’s the harm in someone using that verse for their own personal comfort and encouragement? Thanks!

Hey my friend, here are my general feelings about this.

1) Yes, Christians tend to take verses way out of context.

2) But most of us do it innocently without harm, because we just don’t know all the theology on that yet.

3) Certain Christians make a big deal about taking verses out of context, so they become the biblical equivalent of Grammar Nazis.

So if a superstar athlete wants to tattoo Philippians 4:13 all over his ribcage — well, why not? If a verse like Psalm 34:18 or John 3:16 can inspire someone and give them hope, then I say all the more power to them.

I would even suggest that most of us probably have entire chunks of the Bible all wrong. In other words, because of our human bias and our hazy filter of sin, I doubt any one person can properly contextualize the entire Bible at all times.

We have so many interpretive hermeneutics where everyone thinks “My camp is right,” but the older I get, the less I’m sure this or that guy has it totally right. I know dudes who are scholar-expert-level on the Bible but they’re total jerks, so it’s not working for them. I know others who are beginners at Scripture and still need the table of contents, but God has tenderized them with the little biblical knowledge they have.

When we get to Heaven, I can guarantee we will laugh at all the ways we misinterpreted Scripture and be shocked at what some passages really meant. And we’ve been doing that for hundreds of years already. Example: slavery.

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Quote: Credible

“Love alone is credible; nothing else can be believed, and nothing else ought to be believed. This is the achievement, the “work” of faith…to believe that there is such a thing as love … and that there is nothing higher or greater than it … the first thing that must strike a non-Christian about the Christian’s faith is that … it is obviously too good to be true: the mystery of being, revealed as absolute love, condescending to wash his creatures’ feet, and even their souls, taking upon himself all the confusion of guilt, all the God-directed hatred, all the accusations showered upon him with cudgels..all the mocking hostility…This is truly too much.”

— Hans Urs von Balthasar

Jealousy Happens: Work Hard

I hate what jealousy does to people. It turns them into small, nasty, ugly, shrewish versions of themselves. It’s heartbreaking, really.

And you can’t really call someone out on jealousy. It feels arrogant. No one looks in the mirror and says “I’m just a jealous insecure hater.” You’ll hear about murder and drugs in the confession booth before envy.

I would hope we’re self-aware enough by now to celebrate those who are more successful, more talented, more gifted: because many of them worked hard to get there and there’s a lot to learn from them. I would hope we could promote the less skilled and the newly started, since we have much to offer to them too.

But most of the time, a person’s success or gifts threatens our position, and we instantly react with petty insecurity. We hold others down with unfair judgement and baseless criticism. It’s obvious when it’s jealousy, yet we justify it a million ways because we hate to admit being insecure.

It’s okay to not be “good” at something or to be “less” than someone else at it. In a perfect world, we would all learn from other each other and encourage our gifts. But since it’s not a perfect world: when you’re good at something, just be ready. A person doesn’t have to be a “hater” or a “troll” to be jealous of you. You’ll get attacked from even your closest loved ones when you get slightly better. Receive what’s right, dismiss the rest, and sharpen your craft regardless.

— J

Question: Fear of the Future

yaejinkim asked:

How do you put Lord over your future?

Hey there dear friend: I believe Philippians 3:12-14 sums it up better than I can.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

I know that most of us would say, “God is in control” or “Leave it to God” or “God knows all things” — and all that is true.  It’s easy to Google “God and future” and come up with all kinds of inspirational verses, but I think that only goes halfway.  When Christians talk about the future, it mostly feels like we’re re-arranging mental furniture to feel some pseudo-peace for the next five seconds.  I can see how that would help, but there will always be an anxiety and fear about our future no matter how much we mentally massage ourselves.

So Apostle Paul is saying, Just press on anyway.  Not necessarily because God will work things out the way we want, but because God has called us to a task bigger than ourselves.  He both holds the future and calls us forward into it.  To put it another way: The time we have on this earth is both from God and for God.  A lot of us like the first part but forget the second.

I think to “Let go and let God” is only half the picture.  To say “God holds our future” is correct, but it’s not meant to calm us before a final exam or a job interview.  God is calling us to be willing active participants in what He is doing on the earth.  That means: we’re confident God has written the final ending to our story, but this is more reason to work hard and not less.

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When They Assume The Worst: Keep Doing Your Best

If you’ve grown up in the same town for a while: there are many who time-stamp you with certain labels that are nearly impossible to shake.  You’re the lazy one.  The angry one.  The unreliable one.  The bad kid.  The loud girl.  That one time you ___.  And when we outgrow those labels, the shackles can still follow us.

Most of us do grow up: but we feel a need to defend ourselves or explain our actions or really win the trust of our neighborhood opinion.  Yet there are always a few who have made up their mind about you, and they will always see you as the little punk kid who can’t possibly change.

I’ve been in the same town almost two decades and have made bad choices at least the first half of it.  So up to this day, I’m still in a gossip-chokehold.  Every few weeks, someone else is saying, I can’t believe you’re really a pastor now.  Didn’t you hate God?  Weren’t you at the strip club every weekend?  Weren’t you running into the cops all the time?

Even in ministry, there are tons of pastors and leaders who will subtly sow those seeds of suspicion about other people.  Be careful with her, she’s a little too friendly.  Yeah that guy can preach but he’s got some issues at home.  You don’t want to attend that church, they’re all crazy there.

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