Google+ Followers

Thursday, February 05, 2009

False Promises

After four days of Greek, I feel glad to still be thinking rationally. These intensives become very draining by the end. Thankfully the air is finally getting warmer. All the way up to 18 today. Heat wave!

We had some great discussion today relative to I Peter 5:7. You know the verse, but maybe not by the location. How often have you heard, "cast all your cares on him, because he cares for you"? If you're anything like me, you hear this assurance bantered around in Christian circles on a regular basis. It's interesting to look closer at the context. Here in chapter 5, Peter is wrapping up his argument and appealing to everyone, "all of you, serve each other in humility." (vs. 5) And then we are commanded to be humble, trusting that it is God who will exalt us, or give us honor, at the right time. Out of this command, we are encouraged to "give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you." (NLT) In other words, as we fret or worry about our place and our desire to be more important or more significant or more noticed by others, God invites us to trust in Him and not worry about these things. He will give us true honor in his timing, because unlike the world, He truly cares for us. So, rather than being a vague, generic encouragement to give him our worries, this is very specific instruction to first be humble! I wonder how often, if ever, we've thought of that when being told to give God our worries.

This highlights the Christian tendency to pick apart Scripture and use it for our needs. (See Rick Warren, who will shamelessly use 14 different translations in a message to back up his specific point. Don't get me wrong- I really appreciate what Rick does and what he stands for, but his twisting of the Bible to suit his needs sets a bad example.) Rather than really wrestling with the context and meaning of Scripture, we find the quips that we like and try to live off of them alone. We say things like, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!" This is a nice sentiment, but if we look at it (Ephesians 4), Paul says this in the context of learning how to get along in every situation- whether with plenty or with little. We use it as a general pep talk for any situation, when Paul offers it as a focal point for living with extra or in want. That really changes the meaning!

Now you might be concerned by this. "Hey, wait a minute, don't take away my favorite verses!" I guess what I would offer is that when we really wrestle with Scripture, the promises get even better. Perhaps we like convincing ourselves that we can do "everything through Christ" but there are just too many real life situations where we find we can't do everything. So then, either the promise is empty, or we've misapplied it. The wonder of this truth is that even if we have to get along in life with very little, we can do it because Christ fills the need in our life. This whole truth is better by far than living with a half-true slogan.

So, can we give all our worries to God? Absolutely. But when we really wrestle with Scripture, we see the beauty of a humble life being the source of worry-free living. When we refuse to pickpocket our favorite Scripture and we embrace the whole context of Scripture, we find real promises for living.

May you journey in godly wisdom today,

Nick

1 comment:

Britt said...

I like how you get down to the nitty gritty of the verse and what it really means, rather than just being content to use it as some cute little slogan. The verses you mentioned sound really great when you say them for a quick pick-me-up, but without the true meaning they can actually become quite discouraging. I mean, I know that if I thought, "O.k. God...I'm casting all my cares on you...now do something about it," then I'm setting myself up for disappointment, aren't I? If I don't realize what He's REALLY saying here about just what cares He'll help me with, then I'm going to be bummed when I don't see Him fixing everything.

Same with the second verse about "doing all things through Christ". We need to first be sure that we are doing all things that Christ wants us to do. Why would Christ empower us to do things that are totally outside of His will? We are bound to be frustrated when we say, "God, I'm doing this for you...why aren't you helping me?" Or "Lord, you said you'd help me do all things...why not this thing?"

I agree that snipet quotes can grossly misstate the intention. I've really appreciated how you've been a lot better in your sermons about digging deep in to the real meanings of scripture. Seems like all this Greek torture has been good for you :D