Friday, January 11, 2013

Getting Past the Cliche ~ Life Lessons from Another Blog

I read several other blogs, though admittedly there I days when I just skim the titles in my RSS feed on my Google Reader.

The other day, I read a post at Seekerville that was really interesting. The whole post is interesting, particularly if you are an author, but there was one piece in particular that struck me.

The article is a collection of reader feedback about things they like or don't like in their novels. One reader said this about things she didn't like in her Christian fiction: "Over use of of Jeremiah 29:11 and similar verses."

First, let me say I understand what this reader was talking about and I agree. Often times it seems that writers must have the most edited Bibles in the world, containing only about thirty verses. So I get that the reader is looking for more originality, more use of the entire word of God, more depth in her book's theology. I even agree with her.

But what about outside of books?

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Have certain stories and verses from the Bible become so cliche that they don't mean anything anymore?

How many of you can quote John 3:16? Jeremiah 29:11? Philippians 4:13? Psalm 23?

Some of you, I'm sure, rattled at least two of those off just now. But did you think about what they really said? Cliched and overused verses usually get that way for a reason - their meaning is vastly important to God and to us.

But somewhere down the line these important verses stopped being the cornerstone to a greater truth and started getting used as isolated nuggets of comfort and teaching.

When I work with students, I love to ask them what John 3:17 says. Only once have I had one know the answer. But they are all intimately familiar with John 3:16.

A Bible study I attend recently spent two weeks walking through the Lord's Prayer, or the model prayer as the teacher liked to call it. We walked through every line, examining what it meant, why Jesus included it, and how it applied today. How often do we take the time to do that? Do you have a life verse or a favorite verse that you pull out all the time? When was the last time you looked at the context around that verse to really know what it was talking about.

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Just last week I realized what the "these things" were in the verse I'd learned as a child, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you."

That verse comes immediately after the passage where Jesus talks about God taking care of the birds and the fields and the clothes and food needed for each. Look it up in Luke 12:22-31. I couldn't believe it. I had heard these two snippets of scripture my entire life and never realized they went together.

What made me even sadder what that I had never stopped to ask what "these things" were that God was going to give me if I sought His kingdom. Now, both of those passages have a greater impact.

So when a verse, thought, or Biblical truth starts to feel a bit tired and overused, ask yourself what it means. Read the verses around it. You might be surprised at what the verses you think you know actually mean.

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