Two of my favorite themes in teaching is to consider, at all
Combine a lack of context, the absence of the full counsel and another pitfall, reading with preconceived notions about what it says, and we get potential disaster.
Think not? Try this little experiment. Look at Mt 24, a great passage in which Jesus talks about the end times. All the familiar key words and images are there; tribulation, abomination of desolation, false prophets, Jerusalem surrounded by armies, flee to the hills. Then we see this set of verses:
Now, answer this question, honestly, "Do you want to be left
Matthew 24:40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left.41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
behind?" Take a minute to think about it....
Most people today will say, "No! We all know being left behind is a bad thing!" (with strains of DC Talk playing in the background and the whole series of novels on our bookshelves)..."You've been left behind!" We scream, "No! Wait! I want to go with everyone else!!"
Not so fast there, Rayford.
Take a look at the preceding verses to see the context of the "left behind" verses:
The first thing we notice is that the passage is about the flood...yes, that flood. These verses tell us the wicked people were the ones swept away in the deluge. Noah and his family were the ones left behind! Reading on in the passage we see images of a thief coming to steal, take away, and a master returning to preserve and reward the faithful servants who will stay with him. So...for this passage, do you want to be left behind with the master...or taken away by the thief? Would you rather have been left behind with Noah, or swept away?
Matthew 24:37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
|Pop theology fits nicely onto a bumper sticker|
If we don't make objective reading of the whole Bible, in context, a discipline, we are in danger of worrying that we don't get left behind when that just might be God's greatest blessing for us.