I have a confession to make. I use Google a lot. This confession probably does not surprise anyone and I’m sure I’m in good company on that one.
I recently did a ton of food research that Google played a large role in. For example, Google led to me learning a lot about the Paleo diet. I did a search for blogs, articles, and websites that are in favor of Paleo eating. They were pretty convincing! So for
a little while a few days a couple of minutes, I was a Primal eating pro. But then I started to slightly hate myself and food. So what did I do? I turned back to my trusted friend, Google, this time with a new search phrase: “Cases against the Paleo Diet.” And I found those articles, blogs, and websites even MORE convincing than the ones that favored Paleo! So I quit. Phew. Thank Google that I found links to tell me what I wanted to hear!
(side note: In case you were worried, I do not make all of my life decisions based on Google searches.)
Lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that many modern American Christians are at risk for treating the Bible like Google, or even worse: treating Google like the Bible.
As far as I know, most people do not just get on Google to spend time getting to know Google. We do not set aside time daily to just soak in Google, understand more of how it works, and memorizing it (and if you do, well… I don’t know what to tell you. That’s weird). No, instead we turn to Google for quick answers.
And that’s what many of us do with the Bible. We want answers about something, so we turn to the Bible hoping for a quick answer. One little verse here or there will often do the trick for us. And like my Paleo search method, if the answer we find is unsatisfying, we search other sources that sound convincing and tell us what we want to hear.
You’re not sure that you like what the Bible says about ___________ (money, marriage, stewardship, relationships, children, sin, etc)? No problem! There are many human authors, scholars, and preachers out there who will say the opposite and tell you exactly what you were hoping for. Phew. So you can stick with that.
The only problem is: that is the PROBLEM.
My brother likes to say that he could convince you that God likes chocolate chip cookies, using scripture. He could point to Genesis where it says that humans were made in God’s image, and argue that since he is human and likes chocolate chip cookies, then God must like chocolate chip cookies.
It’s a funny example, but it’s true. Taken out of context, you could use verses in the Bible to prove almost any point.
Additionally, in order to actually find answers we’re searching for, we are becoming more inclined to Google search them rather than opening the actual Bible.
This goes for two different types of answer searching.
1. When faced with general life problems or questions, we turn to other people, writers or bloggers to find out what we should think or to find someone who affirms what we think rather than doing the mental work of applying the Gospel to that situation. Your toddler is throwing tantrums and you are feeling defeated and frustrated? Google has just the thing for you. There just happens to be about 83972473 new trending articles or blog posts gone viral to make you feel better about your hard parenting days. You’re struggling with the way that motherhood has changed your body? Good news: there are also 982374 new trending articles and blog posts gone viral about how you should embrace your stretch marks and curves!
^ Examples from my own life.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so very thankful that there are gifted writers and Christ-followers out there who can speak truth into hard life places, and I deeply appreciate knowing that I am not the only one who is struggling with these things.
But I am too easily satisfied with that. I am tempted to get lazy about studying Scripture and thinking about how the gospel of Jesus Christ, God incarnate come to save sinners and restore a broken world, applies to these situations.
2. Sometimes we do actually want to know what the Bible says about something, so we Google it. “What does the Bible say about ___________ (money, marriage, stewardship, relationships, children, sin, etc)?” And what this does is takes us to a whole host of online opinions. It is like a buffet. Choose the opinions you like, and leave the others behind. We find something that sounds smart and credible that also happens to fit nicely into what we would like to think is true, so we buy it. Boom. Now we have our opinion and we didn’t even have to turn the pages of our Bible (or flip the page on our touch screen. Either way :)).
In my time on staff with a campus ministry, I once had some students tell me that hell isn’t real and that everyone will be with Jesus in the end. I asked where in Scripture they got that from. They pointed me to some articles they found on Wikipedia.
I don’t share that example to pick on anyone, but simply to give a sample of a very dangerous reality that we are facing in this generation.
I am concerned for us.
And trust me, this is no spiritual selfie for me to say that I am always doing this right. I have found myself struggling to find joy in engaging with Scripture lately, because it isn’t as easy or immediate as the constant input my brain is receiving from my virtual information sources. When Riley goes down for a nap, I grab a cup of coffee and my Bible and the iPad and cozy up on the sofa. But then often find that 30 minutes has passed and I have yet to open my Bible, but I’ve read several articles and blogs on my iPad.
I want to see this change. In my own life, and in the generation around me. I want to see a renewed passion and vigor for knowing truth through Scripture.
I’m brainstorming. I’m trying to find some sort of fun way of knowing and memorizing more Scripture and inviting others to come along with me. I want to be invigorated by Scripture again, and I want it to spread like a virus.
Who is with me?
I’d love comments on ways that you enjoy engaging with God’s Word :).