Hey Dojo readers,
Since I was busy last week discussing penis-grabbing & palm-cutting (yes, you read that correctly!), I didn’t have time to post a Thayer’s Thought for the week.
And since I’m traveling this week and getting ready to go back to India, I probably won’t have time to post one this Thursday either.
So I’m doing double-duty with this entry! Here are TWO entries from my friend and colleague, Chris Thayer (Director of Discpleship, Good Shepherd Church).
The first discusses two verses from a book that is near and dear to my heart..and which I’ll be teaching on this time next week in India!
The second talks about a small group Bible study that I actually led at the church a few years ago that Chris was part of (the accompanying sermon may not be up yet, so I’ve not included it).
Enjoy these two entries and please pray for me and my two teammates on the India trip. We leave on Sunday and will be back on March 6th. You can pray for safe travels, spiritual joy, clear communication, and most importantly, the ongoing ministry of the hundreds of local pastors and ministers we will be spending time with!
Text: Revelation 3:14-20
If I could teach only one principle about reading and using the Bible properly, it would be to understand context. Most Biblical misunderstandings and debates arise out of a lack of understanding the context of scripture. Two integral parts of context are what’s in the text (such as the type of writing, theme, and flow of sentences & paragraphs) and what’s behind the text (such as the history, culture, and geography). This week’s passage, Revelation 3:14-20, highlights the importance of these two areas. It contains two verses that have popularly been taken out of context and made to say something they don’t.
As mentioned in this week’s sermon: Revelation 3:20 is a verse that is frequently misunderstood because it is often divorced from the rest of the paragraph (what’s in the text). By itself, the verse says:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
Many well-meaning Christians have taken this verse and applied it to salvation. They see this verse as saying that Jesus is metaphorically “knocking on the hearts of all people who don’t believe in Him, and people just have to open the door and invite Him in to become saved.”
This view of salvation and Jesus’ pursuit of humanity has much to commend it. However this is not what Revelation 3:20 is saying.
The immediate context of Revelation 3:20 (the surrounding verses and its place in the overall structure of the letter) reveal to us that this verse was written not about non-believers, but about believers. It is a rebuke to the believers in Laodicea warning them that they have shut Jesus outside. He’s knocking on their front door waiting to be let back in. This is quite different than the idea of Jesus knocking on the door of non-believer’s hearts.
Rather than a beautiful picture of salvation, it’s a strong image of rebuke.
While Revelation 3:20 is often misunderstood because of a neglect of what’s in the text, Revelation 3:15-16 is often misunderstood because a neglect of what’s behind the text. It reads:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
It’s common to hear these two verses appealed to specifically for a belief that “God would rather you be completely for Him (hot) or completely against Him (cold), rather than riding the fence (lukewarm). He hates people being lukewarm so much that He spews them out of His mouth.”
The problem with this belief is that it smuggles in an idea of what hot and cold mean (being hot is being “on fire for Jesus” and being cold is being “against Jesus) and misses the geographical context of Laodicea (the church that is being addressed in these verses). Both hot and cold water had their uses (bathing and drinking) in ancient cities as they do today. Both hot and cold water are good.
However, Laodicea wasn’t built on or near any hot or cold water sources, so they had to pipe their water in from surrounding areas. By the time the water got to them, however, it was lukewarm. It was neither hot nor cold, it was good for nothing.
This is what Jesus is saying to this church. Like their water, they’re not being good for anything. They’re lukewarm and He wants to spew them out of His mouth!
These are just two of many examples of why understanding the context of scripture is so important to our correct interpretation and application of the Bible. As you read through the Bible, pay close attention to what’s being said, where it’s being said, who it’s being said to, and why it’s being said. Always read scripture in context.
Sermon “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” – Link: http://www.gsumc.org/Media_Resources.ihtml?id=686621
Text: Psalm 13
About 7 years ago, when I first started attending Good Shepherd, my wife and I joined a Sunday morning LifeGroup. One of the first studies we did in that group was to look at the differences between a Children’s Bible and an actual Bible. We would read a story (i.e. Noah and the Flood, or Jonah) in the Children’s Bible and then read it out of Scripture.
The differences were shocking. As adults, we remembered the Children’s Bible version of the stories, not the actual stories from Scripture.
Reading the children’s version and then immediately reading the same story in the Bible felt like watching a G rated film and following it up with an R rated film. There were emotions and events that were so unfiltered they shocked us. It was hard to believe that the Bible contained some of the things we read!
Reading through the Psalms can create much the same reaction.
David and the other authors of the Psalms display raw emotions. They pour out their heart to God about their joy, hurt, fear, anger, and even their sense of abandonment by the very God they’re speaking to.
Psalm 13 is a Psalm just like this. David doesn’t filter his frustration and anger with God. He speaks candidly with Him. He questions God and His lack of action. Perhaps most shocking is that David’s questions of God, sound much like the same charges Elijah uses to mock the false god Baal in 1 Kings 18:27.
This might shock us, or even appall us, but it’s there.
Honestly, I find it encouraging.
It reveals quite a bit about the character of our God. He’s not unwilling to hear people angry at Him.
He’s a big God.
He can take our honesty.
He encourages it.
Contrary to what some people believe or even teach about being in a relationship with God – it’s not easy. But it’s worth it. There will be times that you will be angry at God. There will be times that you question His actions or lack thereof.
He knows that.
Why try to hide it from Him or pretend that it doesn’t exist?
I think one of the reasons God allowed the kind of raw, unfiltered emotion we find in Psalm 13 into the Bible is because He wants to encourage us to be honest with Him. We might not always get the answer we want, but if our relationship with God is worth anything, we owe it to Him to be honest with Him.