To be perfectly blunt, I have a big anger problem. The smallest thing can set me off. If I feel too warm, if I am too tired, if someone is chewing so loud, or if a professor is over-dramatic- I will transform into a giant rage. All of that, I admit, is unrighteous anger. It is a sinful heart, a depraved soul. However, in the rarest of times, I’ll have what Christian theologians will call ‘righteous anger’. That is, anger that is justified, reasonable, and ‘okay’. An example of this is the complete and utter misuse of Scripture. You’ve seen it. Someone quotes the Bible on their Facebook, Twitter, a T-shirt, Bumper Sticker, whatever. It’s corny, it’s annoying, and it makes all of us (Atheists and Christians alike) hate Christians. I am just stating that most of the time, when your nominal Christian decides to ‘cling to Jesus’ because of a heart break, death, or loss of job, they attempt to use the Bible without any type of knowledge.
Here’s what I mean:
Have you ever seen anyone ever use this verse for comfort?
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, have been called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28
I don’t want to burst your bubble, but this verse isn’t saying to ‘not worry because everything will be fine.’ Nay, Paul’s point here is that God is sovereign and in complete control of everything. Yes, everything. And with that comes the understanding that God does all for our best interest even if we don’t agree with it.
Here is something else I saw a few days ago:
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5
With this text, my point is different. When we read something like this, we don’t understand the full context. Now, I’m not saying that we need to know about the author (Paul), when it was written (AD 50s) or even necessarily who it was written to (Christians in Rome). All of those are important…but there is something else that is important. Romans is a letter, but it is also a book. The Bible is 66 books inside one big book. So, if we treat Romans as it should be treated, let’s continue our logic with an observation of the verse we just looked at. Go all of the way to the end. Keep going. Okay, stop. It says Romans 5:1-5. So, that is the book of Romans, Chapter 5, Verses 1 through 5. CHAPTER 5.
If I were to give you Brave New World, To Kill a Mockingbird, or even Animal Farm and told you to read from the fifth chapter to the end, how would that work out? I have no doubt you would understand some of what was going on, but generally speaking, your head would hurt, you’d be lost, and maybe even quite angry. So why would you decide to open up Romans and go to Chapter 5. In verse 1, Paul uses this word: therefore. That should be our first clue that we do not understand what is going on in the text. Therefore implies that there is much that has already been said. Therefore means that there is something before this sentence. Four chapters of words, to be exact! The first four chapters are heavy, depressing, and somewhat scary. It discusses our great God’s wrath and anger towards us as sinners who have ignored Him and decided that we can save ourselves. Then Paul goes on to discuss the poison of religion, which is that we attempt to do good deeds in order for God to approve of us. He uses examples of Jews and Gentiles alike, and condemns both as sinners who are unrighteous in front of the Lord. The thesis, I would say, is that religion is deadly, poisonous, and destructive.
Instead of religion, Paul says that a true relationship with Christ comes from faith, not by works. The verses right before Chapter 5 tell the story of Abraham, a faithful servant of the Lord who was not saved because he was circumcised but because he had Faith in God. Thereinafter, Paul goes on to state that it is because of our wickedness and Christ’s love that he died on the cross to justify us in front of the Heavenly Father. THEN, Chapter 5 comes. Doesn’t that put it all into perspective? We don’t just have peace in God, like Chapter 5 verse 1 says. We have peace BECAUSE of who we are and what Christ has done for us.
Bible reading is so important. It should, for the most part, be read just like any other book, if not given even more respect. Flipping the pages open, and plopping something on a car is not only wrong (if not done correctly), but I believe disheartening to our gracious God who allows us to have the intellect to read, worship, study, and know more about Him.