Jul 012019 2 Responses

More Pages, Less Instagram Bible Verses

Whenever I get sick, I call my doctor and tell him my symptoms. My expectation is simple–he will give me a prescription that will cure my illness. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. On occasion, I have a virus that has to run its course or a situation that a simple pill won’t fix. But on most occasions, he can call me in a prescription and within a short period of time, I feel better.

The key is that the doctor’s training has taught him to diagnose specific conditions. Also, because he sees patients every day, what seems so unique to me is actually quite predictable to him.

A Spiritual Doctor

It feels as though we live in unique times. Many of us are suffering unpleasant conditions for which we would like to take a simple pill. We are selfish, greedy, and materialistic. We struggle to see God at work in the world and are uncertain about the purpose of our lives.

We are struggling and we want help.

Thankfully, as a spiritual doctor, it’s easy to recognize that our struggles are not that unique. While they feel so specific to us, many of the things we are experiencing have been endured by previous generations. There is a prescription for modern Christianity.

Instagram Verses

A majority of Christians do not interact with God and His Word on a daily basis. They might open their Bible at church or read a passage on a screen during worship, but between Sundays, they never engage Scripture again.

For those that do, their interaction is with Instagram verses. They pick and choose individual verses which sound good, are encouraging, and can be easily formatted with a beautiful background and placed on Instagram to encourage others. There is nothing wrong with these verses. Key verses have the ability to get our attention and remind us of Jesus. Yet there is a problem with individual verses. Whenever we read a verse without any context, we are quick to assume meaning and in so doing wrongly interpret what the verse said. We make these verses primarily about us.

Just as Instagram is about projecting our best selves, Instagrammed verses become about us. While they might remind us about Jesus, they primarily reinforce the very conditions we need to escape–greed, selfishness, materialism, and do-goodism.

A Prescription

While reading a verse a day (on Instagram or somewhere else) is better than nothing, there is a far better approach to interacting with God. If I could give the average Christian a basic prescription, it would be pages. Rather than reading a verse a day, they would read at least a page a day if not more.

Pages of the Bible have the ability to transform us in a way that verses never can. By reading a whole page, we are more likely to get the big picture, understand the context, and interact with sections of Scripture we would otherwise avoid.

When we read pages, we are invited into God’s story as our story fades into the background. When we read verses, we ignore God’s story as we keep ourselves in the spotlight.

A Slow Healing

While verses might quickly inject a good feeling, pages will not suddenly change our lives. The power of pages is in the slow discipline of day after day engaging with God in His Word. When we develop this discipline, our lives are slowly shaped by Scripture. It might not change us today, but it will definitely change us tomorrow and for the days to come.

So much of today’s confusion regarding faith and the divisions among believers is a byproduct of being separated from God’s Word. By divorcing ourselves from Scripture, we are left to figure out life and faith on our own. This is not an ability we have.

If you want to be shaped by God, engage more pages of the Bible and focus less on individual verses.

Don’t know where to begin, look here: A Simple Trick to Understand the Bible.

2 Responses to More Pages, Less Instagram Bible Verses
  1. […] 1. We ignore context. The most obvious way to misuse Scripture is to take a singular verse out of th... https://www.kevinathompson.com/how-americans-read-scripture-incorrectly

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