Picasso-like Christianity


I once heard a good piece of advice: Never agree to plastic surgery in a doctor’s office with paintings by Picasso.

Nothing can botch our Christian faith more than prominently placed inaccurate beliefs—beliefs that are often introduced to us in the first years of life.

A common song in my childhood Sunday School went like this:Bible

Every promise in the Book is mine!
Every chapter, every verse, every line.
I am standing on His Word divine,
Every promise in the Book is mine!

Oh, how we sang it with uninhibited enthusiasm! The meaning was clear; every promise in the Bible was for me.

The Bible is full of promises. Yet, I challenge the statement that every promise is the Bible is for me. I do not believe it.

There is the promise to Mary. The angel said to Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name Jesus,” (Luke 1:30). This is definitely a promise. And it’s a promise in the Bible. But it is a not a promise to me. It was a promise to Mary that she would have a child. I am not going to conceive a child in my womb. As a believer in Jesus Christ I am a recipient of the blessings that resulted from this promise to Mary, but the promise wasn’t for me. It was for Mary.

Abraham was promised his descendents would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on seashore, (Genesis 22:17). That is a promise in the Bible to Abraham, not to me. In II Samuel 7:9, King David is promised that his name will be great upon the earth. And so it is, King David is highly revered to this day. That promise is no more mine than last year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Every promise in the Bible is not mine.

Anytime we go to the Bible to obtain guidance for our lives we must be careful to understand the purpose of the passage.  In the story of the angel coming to Mary, announcing the impending conception and birth of Jesus, the narrative is historical. It is there to provide us with an account of what happened. It was not a promise for whoever and whenever.

Picasso-like, we may put an exaggeratedly enlarged eye well up the forehead of our faith by misapplying Biblical promises where they do not belong. When it comes to Bible promises this is most common with promises that speak of blessing or prosperity. We are quick to misuse some wonderful sounding promise to our lives because…because we so intensely crave for it to apply to us.

Why is it imperative to understand every promise in the Bible is NOT for me?

If we believe God has given us a promise and then the promise is not fulfilled we begin to doubt God and His Word.  I often hear people “claim”—for themselves—promises in the Bible that were given specifically to someone else such as Jeremiah, David, Moses, or Joshua. If we believe a promise in the Bible meant specifically for one individual or group of people is for us and then the promise is not fulfilled in our lives, we may conclude God does not fulfill any promise –including those meant for us. This could lead to disobedience and the denial of our faith.

Claiming Biblical promises not meant for us leads us to unrealistic expectations of what God is going to do in our lives. When those expectations are not realized, we are tempted to turn our back on God. Therefore, it’s critical we take the time to accurately understand the meaning and purpose of each Biblical passage we read.

 Promises for Me

Though I was not around when the Bible was being penned, are there promises in the Bible for me?  For you? Absolutely! The Bible is full of promises that are general in nature for all of us.

Romans 8:28 is a promise all of us can lean on: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I John 1:9 is another, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Then there is Philippians 4:6-7 where we read, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses allcomprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” These are wonderful promises throughout the Bible that give us hope and encouragement.

The Bible is brimming with promises. Some promises to specific individuals and peoples; others to every follower of Jesus Christ. The key to a symmetrical and beautifully proportioned faith is learning the art of discerning to whom the promises were given.

_______________________________

What do you think?

Can you share of promises that were given to a specific person or group in the Bible that is sometimes misapplied? Share your examples in the comment section below.

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