Thursday, January 14, 2016
You Might Not Prosper....And Other Surprises From Context
If I want to be blessed, I need to pray for Israel, right?
What about the verse "by His stripes we are healed?" Doesn't that mean physical healing?
Won't God grant us physical healing when we take communion?
These are just a few of the questions that have come up this week as Gil has been teaching Bible Study Methods in our pastoral training program. We are excited because we have a new class of 14 students this year--all who are already involved in ministry! Gil is teaching them, Look carefully at what the verse is actually saying. Consider the cultural implications. And most importantly, Context, Context, Context!
Then yesterday, I was reading an excellent post called God May Not Have a Wonderful Plan for Your Life. The comment section disturbed me, as commenter after commenter used Jeremiah 29:11 as proof that God does, indeed, promise us a wonderful life.
Excuse me? I know that the Christian community in general has an infatuation with Jeremiah 29:11, as it's probably the most printed verse on Christian greeting cards and refrigerator magnets. I wonder if those who have made Jeremiah 29:11 their life verse have happened to read the entire chapter of Jeremiah 29. For example, verses 17-18:
This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth, a curse and an object of horror.'"
Hmmm. I'd like to see someone make that their life verse. Like figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten just doesn't look nearly so good on a coffee cup as plans to give you a hope and a future. As Gil always tells his students, it's all about Context, Context, Context!
I'm not going to get into what this passage really does mean, because that's not my point today. Suffice it to say that there definitely are applications in Jeremiah 29 for our lives today, but I'm confident God has promised you a wonderful life isn't one of them. The truth is that just about all of us can use a bit more of Bible Study Methods in our lives, whether we live in Tanzania or America.
If you are a parent, this book is a fantastic place to start. Gil is taking our kids through this great book, but I think that many Moms and Dads will benefit from it too. (I know I am!)