We relish our own interpretations of life. There is something inherently thrilling to yell, “Look Mom, no hands” as we careen down slippery slopes under our own hidden power and skill.
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media have exploded into our global realities, riding the tidal wave of personal expression undressed for all to see. Even historically conservative enclaves like church groups thrive on the elevated priorities of sharing opinions often at the expense of seeking truth.
Now, before you throw me overboard, keep in mind that even what I write here is partially colored by the very observations of my own opinions. I too am part of this phenomenon; I too have to admit that I have inhaled from the pipe of opinion.
Opinion sharing is a great part of our ability to contribute to collective consciousness out of our own wells of knowledge. However, when those thoughts squeeze out the higher valued interpretations revealed through the word of God, our ideas can become a stumbling block to understanding. Opinions that conflict with what Scripture already declares demonstrates itself to be an idol worshipped by our own preferences.
Woe to those who ask, “so what is the Lord saying to you?” as if our private oracle holds special value. God declares that our personal views “distort the words of the living God”. To those who persist in this approach the Holy One of God goes on to say, “I will surely forget you and cast you out of my presence” (Jer 23).
But reasoning creatures are endowed with more than just preference or personal experience upon which to form observations and conclusions. We are not limited to our own desires or the local news channel in the search for the holy grail of truth.
Truth does exist. It even has a book named after it: the Holy Bible.
But darned if we don’t slip right back into our natural tendency to interpret its contents according to our personal preferences and opinion. Rare it seems now days to participate in a Christian community that emphasizes “context” over “so what do you think” when studying Scripture.
So with regard to how we ought to approach understanding what Scripture says,
What does it mean to evaluate a word or biblical concept “within context”?