The things we are sharing on Facebook are negatively affecting how people see Christians. They are damaging our credibility and creating a stumbling block to those who would hear the Gospel from us.
I’m not convinced that the concept of “hate” is such a bad thing.
Wait a second – hold on. Don’t click away from the page…just hear me out. I’m not talking about ALL hate – racial, economical, gender, or other such things used a basis for such a strong feeling is bad in my book and I’m not endorsing “hate-crimes” or other such nonsense.
When I was young, DC Talk was my jam. “Free At Last”, “Walls”, “Luv is a Verb”, “Heavenbound”, and more were on constant repeat to the point where, had CDs not come along, I would have worn out the cassette tapes by the time was I was 10. There was just something about rap/hip hop that I loved; my mom likes to say that DC Talk and (early) Michael W Smith (Go West Young Man) helped me learn how to speak.
On Tuesday morning I sat in the Portland Airport waiting for an hour and a half till it was time to board. As I sat there, I watched people wait for the same flight – have you ever done that? Just people watched? Airports are a close second behind Wal-Mart for the best place to do that – people are fascinating.
Have you ever had a choice set before you that you knew, without a shadow of a doubt, was going to change the rest of your life? Can you look back and think of a moment where you chose a direction to take that completely altered your future? I know I can.
I was raised in a Christian Pastor’s home. A Baptist preacher. I grew up going to christian summer camp, vacation bible school, awana, etc. At every one of those big events I responded to the Altar Call and “asked Jesus into my heart” because the day after the last time I had gone forward, I felt liket it “didn’t count”. The Camp High was gone and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel like a Christian. I must have gone through those motions 8 or 9 times.
Brace yourselves. It’s time to talk about the media.
I’m not talking about what you should and shouldn’t watch. I’m not talking about media addiction (which is a fun topic actually – I’ll have to tackle that sometime). I’m talking about how Christians are portrayed in the media.
Because we have to face facts: we’re kinda the running joke.
The Bible is oftentimes hard to understand. As modern day readers we have to take into account our own bias and the original intended audience. If you want to get technical, I took a class in 2010 at Multnomah called “Advanced Bible Study Methods” which gave a long list of requirements on how to study scripture.
- Identify the TYPE of literature
- Identify the GENRE of literature
- Determine the major DIVISIONS in the passage
- Subdivide those into UNITS
- Identify the FORMS of literature
- Identify REPETITIONS of phrases and words
- Identify KEY WORDS
- Decide on the meaning of KEY WORDS
- Identify and decide the meaning of FIGURES OF SPEECH
- Note CONNECTING WORDS
- Determine how the SENTENCES are RELATED to each other
- Identify RELATIONSHIPS between UNITS
- Revise subdivision and division TITLES
- Determine how the major DIVISIONS RELATE to one another
- Decide upon the MAIN IDEA of the entire book or passage
- Decide upon the PURPOSE of the entire book or passage
Scripture is difficult to get a handle on! Some Godly men and women spend their entire life studying scripture and still come to have better understanding later in life; the key, I think, is to not force our own understanding onto scripture and misinterpret what is there.
I remember a specific time during my freshman year in Bible College when, after a class, I went to talk to a professor. I was really having a hard time understanding why interpreting scripture in a way that was not originally intended was ALWAYS wrong. The verse in question was Revelation 3:20 in which Jesus says
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”
I had heard this used many, many times as a Gospel Message: Jesus was standing at the door to sinners hearts and was knocking and they only needed to let him into their lives. But if you read the context (surrounding passages) that message was not what was being communicated! Jesus was talking to a church that was “lukewarm” and had lost its zeal for the Him: his urging that he was at the door knocking was directed at CHRISTIANS not non-Christians. I went to my professor and asked why it was such a bad thing to use the passage as a “come-to-Jesus” verse and he responded by asking where I would draw the line in repurposing scripture – God’s Word was not for me to fit into my own box but to study and learn more about him – even if I was interpreting scripture in a “good” way, it was still wrong.
So let me fix what I originally said: the Bible is oftentimes hard to understand correctly. It’s actually very easy to come to a simple understanding of scripture but that doesn’t mean it is right.
I say this as much to myself as to you, my friends: never stop reading and studying scripture. Never stop asking God for understanding and clarity. I believe I have a more clear understanding of Revelation 3:20 than I did a few years ago but that doesn’t mean I’m done looking at it and trying to discern God’s Word more fully.
To take inspiration from a famous quote by John G Mitchell, co-founder of Multnomah University: Read your Bibles, folks!