I love YouVersion, I want to make that point right from the beginning. I think it is one of the best digital applications for exploring the Bible. I have it on as many devices as I have at any one time! It is great, go on and download it, sign up… feel free to do it now, I can wait.
Welcome back. You now have one of the most powerful digital disciple tools around. If you don’t then you may have one of the other great and wonderful digital Bible products out there.
‘Hold on Darren, I fear you may be building us up for a big but’ – sorry couldn’t resist that. Yes, there is a big but! One of the amazing things that this new technology enables is the ability to share. I have noticed an increase on my Facebook dashboard of posts from YouVersion, and other other Bible apps in recent days. On top of this is the ever-present Pinterest shares of sandy beeches with random Bible verses overlaid in Helvetica. I am bombarded with the Bible wherever I look on Facebook, serves me right for having so many Christian friends.
‘Yeah, so what, c’mon Darren, what’s wrong with the Bible?’ Well hold on, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the Bible. But, I am a little concerned about the sharing of these random verses.
Jeremiah 29:11 is a great verse. It is used as one of those, don’t worry, things can only get better verses. If you’re struggling and things look pretty grim then have a little dose of Jer 29:11 with your tea and things will seem so much better. In fact here, have a look at it and you’ll feel instantly better…
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I can feel the warm glow from you flowing back through the monitor, or handset. It is a wonderful and inspiring verse. The problem is that it was written to a nation about to go into exile, or actually in exile (depending on your dating). It was not written to make you feel all warm and cosy. The meaning behind the words may well have a ‘universal truth’ that you can apply to your life, but that isn’t the initial intention, or meaning, of the passage. And that is my concern.
All these great Bible verses arrive on my feed without any context, background or explanation. As believers we are fine with this, we of course know the context to any text that appears online… don’t we? But what about everyone else?
There is nothing new under the sun
Years ago, I, well okay my mum, had a promise box. It contained a series of Bible verses printed and rolled up, just like the fortunes in Chinese cookies. Although I can’t remember, I am sure Jer 29:11 would have been in there, along with countless others.
My concern is that once again we reduce the Bible into a series of propositions that bear no relation to the lives of the those who wrote them or those who read them on Facebook. And when we do that we reduce God to a series of propositions… hey, I’m evangelical at heart, I want relationship.
I don’t want you, or myself, to stop sharing Bible passages. I am, sometimes, partially fond of the odd desktop style pic proclaiming mercy and justice. After all, I know, or at least have a grasp, of the eternal truths they proclaim. But what I would ask, is that you, and I, begin to add some commentary. We might think we know what salvation and righteousness means, but our friends on Facebook struggle with terms and conditions!