Context Confusion

I have seen a few articles of late having a go at Christians who have a positive outlook. There is one verse in particular that people love to use as a promise from God over their life, and it is just as popular to be attacked by others in order to ‘prove’ that the first group of people are taking it out of context. I want to address that here so people can see what my views are, and also so that you can make an informed decision when someone says something to the contrary. The verse is Jeremiah 20:11 and it says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Now this verse fills me with hope and enthusiasm for what I can achieve in Christ, however when someone claims that it is taken out of context, they imply (without actually saying) that the opposite applies. There is one post which I read a few minutes ago which said that this was Jeremiah writing to 10 000 Israelites who were exiled in Babylon, and it does not apply to us now. The article says that we shouldn’t think that this is about us because it wasn’t written for us. I have had an argument with someone on facebook over this, and it got quite heated. I said some things that I shouldn’t have said and I apologised because I did get angry about it and shouldn’t have. In the end it turned out to be a misunderstanding and what seems to be the issue is the word ‘plan’. The person in question claims that God doesn’t necessarily have a specific plan for everyone, only for certain individuals, however He does have a purpose for all individuals. Now ,as far as I am concerned, a purpose or a plan still shows that God is concerned about us and that He wants what is good for us. It means that we can put our faith and trust in God. Now I don’t believe that God has a specific plan for our lives as in where we shop, what we eat and what car we’ll drive, but He does have a purpose for us. If He didn’t have a purpose, why would He give us unique gifts, why do we all have different skills and strengths? What would be the use of praying, if God didn’t care what happened to us? If you look at a good earthly father, he wouldn’t have a specific plan for his kids, but he would want what is best for them. I believe God to be the same (only better). I think it is important not only to point out when scripture is taken out of context, but also say what we believe to be the truth. If you just oppose the verse, it stands to reason that everything stated is untrue, and that is not the case. At least not here.

Now, please don’t get confused, you see there are verses that we do take out of context. We need to bare in mind that things changed when Jesus died and rose again, so we can’t take old covenant verses at face value. We need to keep them in context. Also, we need to make sure that we read chapters and books to see what a verse really means. That is really important. But if we go around saying a verse applies to someone else, and it doesn’t apply to me, it is risky because in that case nothing will apply to you.

Unfortunately, there is so much brokenness in the world today that we lose faith. Sometimes we start to lower the message of the Bible down to our understanding. We start to think that scripture can’t possibly be true because we see the opposite happening here, so we start to look at ways to try and justify the scripture based on our understanding. I am trying to lift my understanding to fit with scripture. It is difficult, but I would rather that than the other way around. Is my life perfect? Far from it. Do I have everything that I want? No. Yet I still believe that God has a good plan for my life, which will give me a future and a hope. If He doesn’t, then He would be a pretty lousy father, but I know Him as the perfect Father. Some may well take the verse above out of context and take it to mean that God has a specific plan for our lives, but when others oppose it they make it seem like He doesn’t care what we do, the truth is actually somewhere in between. Maybe the verse is technically not true for us, but the fact is that God is concerned about us, He does have a will and purpose for us and He will help us achieve that if we are willing. Please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I hope that this clears things up. We need to read the Bible in context. I find that getting an overall understanding of God by reading the Bible, praying and meditating on the Word will help with the context of scripture. This way when a verse says something outside of your understanding of God, check it out. Just make sure that your understanding of God is a biblical one, and not based on your circumstances.

God bless!

Richard

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4 thoughts on “Context Confusion

  1. I would say that this passage is a broad passage directed at the remnant. I believe we can draw some comfort from the corporate view of God because we are members of that body of believers today. But I can see how we can take that and other passages out of context to fit our individual challenges and problems we face. Context is important and also is the body of God’s Word to support the understanding and application of any passage.

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    1. My only real issue with people saying that something is taken out of context (when they get it right), as that they often don’t offer the truth. When someone says that a verse is out of context, they imply that the opposite is true (if that verse is not, it stands to reason that the opposite is). That is not the case though, and it causes confusion. Thanks for your comment.

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  2. I love that verse and use it frequently. My opinion is that it is meant for each of us. He does have a plan, but we have the choice to follow it. I do absolutely agree with you, don’t just critique and then leave people hanging. Also, there are scriptures that can stand alone without changing the meaning of it “in context”. Great post, glad I read it!

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  3. Read as a “dead book”the guy may be right, but the Bible is alive and unless you have The Spirit of God humming around inside you well then you will struggle to understand how anything can be relevant to you personally. Context it’s important for understanding, but revelation brings insight and this cannot be got, only given…k

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