Remember the good ol’ days of Testamints? Or how about Candy Scripture — “Reaching the lost one piece of candy at a time.” Or Jellybean Prayers? Or random billboard signs with Scriptures reading “Repent! The Kingdom of Heaven is near!” Or how about the dollar-bill Bible tracts? I think we are beginning to see an evolution of that. Daily Facebook Scripture posts. Don’t get me wrong, I know these are done with the best intentions, but I have some reservations about it.
There are many problems facing the evangelical church today and I fear that we are facing those problems in an incorrect way. This is what I like to call the “John 3:16 issue.” We’ve all probably heard this verse. Many times we’ll see it on signs, graffitied on concrete or bathroom stalls (which I’ve always found somewhat ironic that the verse says “God so loved the world” and we are excluding the world when we vandalize property), or we’ll hear it shouted to us by a Baptist missionary on the side of the road.
Alone, what does this verse accomplish? Does the world really know the extent of God’s love by this verse? Probably not. Do we know the extent of God’s love by this verse? Most definitely not. But we use it anyway.
What I mean by the “John 3:16 issue” is simply this: we like to take Scripture out verse by verse and use it to combat things happening in the world or build our foundation with Christ. While doing this, I fear that we forget that Scripture originally did not have chapter and verse markings. It was originally one continual thought. So instead of doing Scripture justice, we rob it of its meaning.
I’m not saying that I hate the verses that people post on Facebook. I’m merely saying that Scripture deserves far better treatment than that. Time and time again, I have seen what has happened because of the “John 3:16 issue.” We’ve used this method to support our reasoning for why women should not be leaders in the church, why drinking is completely wrong, why homosexuals should not be allowed to marry, why abortion is a wrong, what the qualifications of an elder should be, and the list could go on. I’m not saying that I disagree with our answers to some of these things, but I do disagree with how we achieve those answers.
Scripture must be handled more delicately and more holistically than how it is being handled now. Because every time someone says, “God said in …..” someone else can say “Well God also said this in ….” The arguments will never stop because taking Scripture apart piece by piece only works whenever one keeps it intact with Scripture as a whole.
I guess what I’m saying is this: we must be very careful how we treat Scripture. Putting a verse on Facebook for all to see may mean nothing for some, and may mean the wrong thing to others. Scripture only works as a whole, not separated. For instance, God’s love is understood by reading the OT and seeing the extent of love that God showed to the Israelites by constantly rescuing them. We understand “the world” as meaning everything — not just the Israelites. One can only see that distinction if the OT is understood. We can only understand the sacrificial system by understanding the OT. So we see that Christ was made the perfect sacrifice. “Believes in Him” carries with it a great deal of significance in that there was no longer acts required but just belief. But one would not know that without looking at Scripture as a whole.
So on the deep, theological side, I fear that doing this can rob Scripture of its depth and meaning. On a lighter side, I always feel like a bad Christian because I don’t do it. I’ll post things about Christianity that excites me or causes me to question and rethink, but I rarely post Scripture. I don’t know why. I also never click on those “like if you love Jesus” things. I guess what I’m saying is that if you post a Scripture, don’t expect everyone to praise you for it. Expect some negative feedback from some people, too. It’s a social platform for a reason. It’s not religious persecution if someone disagrees or doesn’t like what you’re doing.
When one looks at the verse in context of the entirety of Scripture, it is much more powerful. For further study on how to handle Scripture, I recommend N.T. Wright’s book, “Scripture and the Authority of God.” It’s a great book that will definitely reshape how you read and use Scripture.