Misusing Scripture: An Introduction

A 2007 Washington Post article began this way: 

“He emerged from the metro at the L'Enfant Plaza Station and position himself against a wall beside a trash basket. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play. It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by…No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made.”

His name? Joshua Bell. So how did people respond? The article continues: “In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.”

That’s something. People were in such a hurry they never paused to enjoy the immense beauty of the world’s finest music (Bach’s Chacconne) played by one its finest musicians. 

Like the people in that train station that January morning, many of us rush right past the awesome beauty that exists within the pages of Scripture: truth far more intricate than the complex chords of Bach’s Chaccone, glories far more soaring than Schubert’s Ave Maria, a soul-enriching, eternity-altering feast of divine truth. 

As Christians, we must be a people of the Book. A people who love the Word, read the Word, pray the Word, sing the Word, and live the Word. 

We know this. But something gets in the way of the execution. We’re like those busy commuters in the train station on that January morning. All too often, we hurry by the glories of Scripture. Sure, we pick out a measure or two here or there. But its rare that we linger in raptured delight and soul-transforming wonder. 

To put it more bluntly, in our busyness and lack of care, we often misuse Scripture in such a way that hurriedly pull a verse out of context here and misapply it there. To do so is to hurry past the glorious concert of truth awaiting us. 

In this new series we’ll call “Misusing Scripture,” we’ll look at ways that we misuse Scripture and dig into commonly misused verses. 

In our next two articles, we’ll survey common interpretive mistakes, and then we’ll take a post each to consider at the top ten most misused verse. In each article, we’ll briefly consider their common misuse before digging into the context to see what they actually mean.

In closing, here are some practical suggestions: 

1. Approach Scripture expectantly. It's God's Word, His self-revelation. In Scripture, we see the majesty and glory of God Almighty. Come to the Scripture looking for God's character and glory. All too often, we miss out on the glory of Scripture because we think we already understand it. Often, our greatest hindrance in understanding the Bible is our supposed familiarity with it. 

2. Approach Scripture reliantly. I Corinthians 2:14 reminds us that we need the Holy Spirit to be able to understand divine truth. That means we must approach Scripture prayerfully, with firm reliance on God's Spirit to reveal divine truth to our souls. 

It's not just any other book, it is the very Word of God. It deserves reverence and thoughtfulness. We must not bustle past it like distracted commuters, but enjoy it like enraptured concertgoers. 

Your life may constantly feel like a busy Monday morning in a Washington D.C. train station. I want to invite you to take time to slow down and enjoy the beautiful concern of divine truth that awaits in the pages of Scripture. Slow down, it's worth it. 


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