Watch the video that is posted above, and listen to the words. Excuse the cheesy old clothes and annoying screen-text and listen to the words. Now, you’re probably thinking that I’m going to talk about poverty or how we abandon people, or the state of our cities, but I’m not. I’m going to talk about something completely different, something that I learned today when listening to this song. Here goes, try and keep up.
I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and I now live in London, England. I used to listen to this song as a child but, in true human nature, I didn’t actually listen to the words. I used to hum through the verses, not really listening or understanding a word of it, and then sing along vigorously with the chorus. So how can you tell me that you’re lonely, seems to you that the sun don’t shine. Let me take you by the hand and I’ll lead you through the streets of London, I’ll show you something that’ll make you change your mind. Now even though the song sounds a bit depressing, to fit with the lyrics, this is the only part of the song that I remembered. Read the chorus again, this time don’t think about what the verses say. I remembered this song as one that was singing about how wonderful London was and that, just by walking through the streets, you wouldn’t be miserable any more! In fact, when I was a child I remember thinking that I would love to go to such a wonderful place. I clearly didn’t read, listen to, think about, or remember the verses at all. This meant that I totally misunderstood the song.
I had also never been to London, so I had no idea if what the songwriter was saying was true. Considering the fact that I totally misunderstood him anyway, I guess it didn’t really make a difference. Now I live in London. I have to say that I like it here and I’m not sorry that I moved here but, like any city, it has its issues. So, living in Cape Town as a child and hearing about this place called London that I thought was wonderful, and would make you happy, was not really the truth. It certainly was not what the song writer was trying to say. I missed the point completely.
So, what has this got to do with anything? Well, you see, this is how some of us read the Bible. We pull out bits that we fancy, or that are taught to us, and we make up our own story based on that. We’ll either read the bits that make us happy, all the promises from God, and expect to have a perfect life, or we’ll read the bits about suffering and expect to live a horrendous life of misery and suffering. The Bible is an amazing book. The old covenant and new covenant seem to contradict, but, if you understand both of them, you’ll see how they refer to each other and how they relate to each other to show us the greatest love story ever. I have said before that pulling one verse out of the Bible and basing a theological statement on it is risky. Now, I know that we all show the verse that relates to what we are saying, but when someone shows me that, I’ll go and read the whole passage at least. I usually read the introduction to the book (I use the study Bible which has a section showing who wrote the book, why they wrote it and what the circumstances were), this helps me to understand the context. If you read a passage in the New Testament, and it refers to some scripture in the Old Testament, don’t just skim over it (like I used to), look up the scripture and read even more of it. This will help you to see why the NT author used it, and why it is relevant today.
You don’t have to try too hard to find Christians that don’t agree, just post something ‘Christian’ on facebook and you’ll see. This is partly because we interpret the Bible differently (which is alright to an extent) but partly because we haven’t read enough and we don’t understand. We have read a part and have made up our minds what it must mean, or we have heard someone else explain it and it seemed to make sense. I have heard people argue a point because their pastor said something, but when I asked them to explain, they couldn’t. They still believed what he said, but had no idea why.
So, what can we learn from this? Read your Bible, read whole books, get an understanding of why they were written, and understand what you have read. Don’t just believe what others tell you, however much you trust them, or make up theories based on one verse.
Enjoy the Word!