Yet More Useless and Foolish Memes and Sayings
Will we ever see the end of foolish and false posts and memes?
They are never-ending: various posts, quotes, sayings, memes and the like that are seen everywhere on the social media. Some are good. Some are true. Some are helpful. But some are flat-out wrong, foolish and false. And it is especially the so-called Christian memes and sayings that can be a real worry.
This is my 25th article in this irregular series. That implies that there are plenty of unhelpful and often unbiblical sayings and posts out there. Here I will look at another five of them. They all tend to have SOME truth, but also enough falsehood and error to render them useless – and even dangerous.
“Instead of reading books about the Bible, why don’t you just read the Bible.”
Um, why not both? That would be the short and the obvious answer. I so tire of useless false dichotomies that some Christians toss around. Of course we should read the Bible. But there is nothing amiss in reading Christian literature, theology and commentaries as well which can help us greatly as we seek to read, understand and apply Scripture.
It is only pride and self-righteousness that seeks to put a guilt trip on others who actually benefit greatly from reading books about the Bible. The truth is, the Bible can be difficult to understand at times, and making use of the wisdom and insights of other Christians is certainly of use.
That is exactly why God has given teachers to the Body of Christ. Teaching and teachers are so often discussed and promoted in the Bible. We need each other to move into a fuller and more mature understanding of Christ and his Word. And that is why we also go to church and listen to sermons each Sunday: to help us in our Christian discipleship and our understanding of Scripture.
And Paul himself could speak about how he wanted Timothy to bring his (Paul’s) books when he comes (2 Tim. 4:13). I think we can assume he was not just speaking about various bits and pieces of the Hebrew Bible, but other reading material as well. But I discuss this whole matter elsewhere, eg: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2017/04/01/perilous-pitfalls-unteachable-spirit/
“All churches should be homeless shelters at night.”
Well, first of all, many are. Many are serving in all sorts of capacities, including feeding the poor and sometimes housing them. But we need to examine this a bit further. First, we must look at what the purpose of the church is. If it were only a social welfare service and provider, then yeah, we could just turn all church buildings into dormitories and the like.
But churches do have a biblical mission: to teach and disciple believers and to corporately worship the living God. That is a major calling of any church. Sure, it can be involved in all sorts of other good works, but often such things are more properly done by what we refer to as parachurch organisations. These are ministries that exist alongside of the church. They can be mercy ministries of various sorts, such as offering help for the homeless, or support for pregnant women looking for a place to stay and not abort their child, and so on.
Thus the church as a whole has always been up to its ears in social good of all kinds. But a practical question can be raised here: What happens in the daytime – at least on a Sunday – when a worship service is held? Are all the homeless folks simply booted out for a while, regardless of the weather, etc? So all up, this saying is really not all that helpful.
“Life with God is about relationships, not rules.” John Bevere
We hear this all the time. And I have challenged this silliness all the time. Plenty of my earlier articles can be mentioned here. Here is one for example: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/11/01/jesus-law-and-relationship/
But I can speak to this further. Yes, God wants us to have a love relationship with him. But it is NOT an ‘anything goes’ relationship. It actually has specific content. It has boundaries. His Word tells us in detail what such a relationship should look like.
The covenant relationship God established with Israel in the Old Testament for example is full of rules and regulations to make clear just what sort of relationship this was to have been. And it is no different in the New Testament. We have numerous commands spelling out what is and is not acceptable as we have relationship with God.
Jesus said often that ‘if you love me you will keep my commandments’. Um, what is a commandment if not a rule or a regulation? There is thus no incompatibility whatsoever in loving God and in following his rules – which are for our very good. So we must reject this foolish and false dichotomy.
“The lies Portiphar’s wife told against Joseph led to his promotion. Every lie told against you shall work in your favor.” Cynda Hunter
I have no idea who Cynda Hunter is, although she calls herself “Daughter of the King”. I do know that she does not know how to spell for starters. It might have been a different dad that taught her how to read and write! But this is of course another rather ludicrous thing to say.
Did Joseph get delivered, honoured, blessed and promoted by God? Yes, and more than once. But of course he was part of the messianic line leading to Jesus. What happened to him is not necessarily a template for all of us. Most of us will not be betrayed by our own siblings. Most of us will not spend time in prison. Most of us will never rise to second in command in Egypt.
Sure, we can rejoice in the wonderful spiritual lessons found in his story, including Genesis 50:20: “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” But the idea that every time someone lies about us we will see wonderful promotions is just silly. Millions of Christians over the centuries have been lied about and betrayed. Many – perhaps most – never did get released from prison. Many were in fact killed.
So trying to make the story of Joseph into some sort of magical and fool-proof ‘get out of jail free’ card is just plain foolish – as well as unbiblical. We can pray that God will undo the harm of the lies of others, but we cannot claim that we will never suffer from their evil acts and intentions.
“God’s purpose is limited by your ability to imagine.”
Um no. First of all, as Scripture clearly teaches, nothing can hinder God’s purposes. Consider for example what we find in Isaiah 14:27: “For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?”
But his purposes are determined by HIS own will and HIS own plans, not ours. Often what we think might be God’s plan for our lives is just so much wishful thinking on our part, or even just carnal desires. Scripture warns us about following our own fallen imaginations. It informs us that the human heart is desperately wicked and deceitful.
And it is not just non-Christians who have these problems – even the Christian can still run with fleshly desires, wants and dreams. Even the Christian can ‘imagine a vain thing.’ Even the Christian can deceive himself as to what he really wants. So we must put everything under his will, and not just vainly try to ‘name it and claim it’.
Secondly, this is really just foolish New Age mumbo jumbo. Those in this movement constantly speak about how we can create our own reality and the like. They push a mind-over-matter nonsense which is not biblical. It is pagan magic to think that we can get whatever we want whenever we want it just by imagining things hard enough or long enough. But see more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2018/11/06/faith-or-presumption-prayer-or-magic/
As there is no shortage of these silly and unScriptural memes and sayings, I guess there will be no shortage of the need for articles like these to try to set the record straight. So stay tuned for more such pieces from me in the near future.