I was running an errand that took me into an industrial neighbourhood and as I waited at the intersection a sign in a business window caught my attention. It posted a phrase I had just read from the Bible that morning. I turned down a street and noticed the property boundaries typically rimmed by low hedges were now marked by rising chainlinks. Tied to one fence was a stark white sign with the same phrase in bold black text. I arrived at my destination and there on the neighbors’ gate was the identical proclamation. On the way home I stopped by my local hardware store to look for a special light bulb and at the end of the aisle was a stack of signs, you guessed it, printed with the same words from Philippians 3:2….. “Beware of Dogs”
When I read a description of heaven in Revelation 22:14-15 it notes “But outside are the dogs with the sorcerers, murderers, idolaters…” Open the Gospel of Matthew and there in red letter print is a record of Jesus speaking “Don’t give what is holy to dogs.” Did He have some bone to pick with these canine companions? Was our Saviour was cynophobic? I hope you see my point here how easy it can be to “cherry-pick” a scripture and twist it into an unintended meaning. The dangers of this practice can include spiritual abuse. It’s not a phenomenon isolated to sacred texts. We see it happen a lot with cyberbullying, retweets and reposts of photos out of context used in slander campaigns. Digital communication is driven to compete for our attention and by design employs the most inflammatory angles. We are losing the practice of patience and focus required to think through and understand complexity. Yes, there are wonderful stand-alone statements but the Bible wasn’t written to be read 140 characters at a time. Don’t limit the power of God’s word in your life to only inspirational graphics. A deeper study of the complete body of scripture will bring you peace, love, hope and joy and will reveal the most powerful, winsome and awesome character the universe has ever known.