I just recently had four monuments of unnecessary wisdom removed on Friday. Why do they call them wisdom teeth anyways? The surgery went well after of course they finally got the IV to stay in me. “Oops let me try this again” four holes later, I am out like a switch. I woke up a little wobbly and I said a lot of silly things but I have to say the worst was yet to come.
I came home yesterday after Church three days after surgery and all my friends and I were jammed packed inside this small SUV like a pack of sardinis (that’s Latin). We had to stop and get some gas for the car and I had to go to the bathroom because of all the water I was drinking.
As I was getting out across from me there was a man filling up his car about a meter away. I was sitting in the back left seat behind the driver. My drugs were also on the left side of my coat pocket. I didn’t want to bring them inside incase I accidentally dropped them or if someone saw me with them. The doctors prescribed them to me to ease the pain. As I was stepping outside the vehicle, indifferent to other people filling up their cars I took my bag of drugs and threw them inside and loudly said, “Don’t eat all these.” Immediately I saw that this man next to me saw the bag. I checked to be sure and I was right his eyes widen and his jaw dropping quickly as if I were some crook. The rickety SUV packed with people only added to this man’s suspicion. Well I didn’t know what to say so I just kept walking.
There is nothing worse then taking something out of context. One of the things that I learn as a student, a teacher, and occasionally a pastor is the importance of taking verses as they are in their context. “Context determines meaning.” One example of scripture that is commonly taken out of context is found in Matthew, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them (Matt. 18:20).” This passage is not about prayer and yet I hear it all the time. The context is about the steps that the Church takes to handle someone who is in sin. And yet people will still pray, “Lord, it says in your word that when two or three are gathered in your name there you are in the midst.”
Besides that it is absurd to think that God leaves you alone when two or three are not gathered in his name. It would be a shame that God could only be in the midst of you if you were with other people. My closet is not even big enough for one person. God is omnipresent. He is everywhere, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there (Psalm 139: 7-8)!” “And behold, I am with you always, to end of the age (Matt. 28:20).”
Perhaps the most notorious is, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me (4:13).” What is confusing about this verse is that Paul uses the singular first pronoun and we think well then, “Why can’t I do all things that I desire because Christ strengthens me.” Paul just wrote about being content in all things. How is Paul able to do this then? It is because Paul is dead and Christ is alive in him. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20).”
There are three main ingredients for a good bible study, context, context, and context.