Last week, we looked at a more faithful reading of the Scriptures as relates to the position of Christ within the Godhead (Trinity). This week, let's roll that into a more faithful reading of the Scriptures in general, since what we're doing right now is not quite working for a lot of Christians (or for the world at large).
There are a lot of Scriptures that we turn to in almost immediately in times of trouble. These are the Scriptures we're most likely to know by heart. They are the ones we're ready to offer our friends at a moment's notice. They are the ones that are emblazened on all of the things we wish to use as public declarations of faith - bumper stickers, T-shirts, coffee mugs. Football players have them on their eye masks; baseball players on their cleats. They are the fodder for many a tattoo.
They are the signs of our faith, and all we have to do is say the book, chapter, and verse, and these words of comfort and confidence are right there. John 3:16. Jeremiah 29:11. Psalm 23. Romans 8:28. And the list goes on and on.
We know the words, but do we know any more what these words mean? Do we really?
We really don't.
We know what these words mean to us. What we hope they mean. What we've taken them to mean in our darkest times of trouble when we needed them to mean a certain something. But we don't know what most of these verse really mean because if we did, we would know that these are not words of comfort, but words of calling - they are a call to live a deeper life of faith.
Yet, we have made them such shallow words.
You know what I'm talking about. You know how easy it is to roll your eyes when some of these verses are brought up. They are so overused, we think. So commonly quoted as to have become trite. We're really sick and tired of Christians using these verses as the answer to everything, particularly when we, as Christians, so easily find them the answer to nothing at all any more. They're just...empty.
The reason these verses are empty for us is not because they are overused, but because they have been completely removed from their context in order to comfort us. They're not trite; they're troubled. And that makes them troublesome. The way that we've come to use these verses in our modern culture, in both our secular and in our Christian worlds, has done something powerfully perverse to these Scriptures - it has set them up in such a way that, taking them tritely, our faith cannot help but fail us.
Yes, you read that right - our use of these Scriptures out of context almost demands that this faith, on which we rely for comfort, will fail us. How could it not?
So this week (and a bit into next, perhaps), we'll look at some of these verses and how they set our faith up for failure. We'll put them back into their proper context and reclaim their calling for a life of true faith, a faith that doesn't fail.