Contextomy – March 4th, 2019

Contextomy

Taking God at His Word…

March 4th, 2019

Perhaps the current political climate is teaching us we can’t take what someone says as fact without understanding the full story.

Surely many of us have experienced a situation where someone has spewed information to others that sounds scandalous, but really was a subtext taken completely out of context with the situation.

We even do this ourselves in social media where we make a comment regarding a particular topic without going into the detail of the situation, then that comment is isolated out and used to suggest a message that is totally foreign from our intent.

Context is critical to our understanding. Sound bites are inaccurate and often can suggest a position different from the source’s intent.

This is not a fault of the source, it is however, a situation created when someone isn’t interested in understanding enough about a situation, to pay attention to the entire context.

In a sound bite driven culture, it is extremely easy to misinterpret someone’s intent. We as a society have gotten so far from the standard of “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”, in our quest to absorb information in bite-sized portions.

Contextomy

 [kon-teks-tuh-mee]

noun

  1. the practice of misquoting someone by shortening the quotation or by leaving out surrounding words or sentences that would place the quotation in context.
  2. an instance of this.

Contextomy is what is practiced by the media, and functionally everyone, due to this practice of absorbing our information in small bits. Not that it is impossible to clearly understand what is being conveyed without a full context but there is a default impression that is gathered from the sound bite that may or may not reflect the true meaning of the quotation.

What is common is the practice of shortening the quotation to suit a desired meaning rather than the meaning intended.

How Contextomy Affects Us

The issue with this trend in our culture is that our relationship with others can easily be misinterpreted when we are taken out of context or our relationship with other is based on our own contextomy.

Posts on social media and especially responses to posts may become abbreviated to where the context is completely lost without further elaboration.

What further complicates this issue is that when things blow up and we are forced to elaborate and explain ourselves, often the explanation and our own credibility is impugned.

This is because the explanation came after the fragment of information was released and clarification only sounds like a way to talk ourselves out of a problem.

Further, the other issue in providing more detail is our sound-bite mentality. We, and our audience, are both so accustom to the sound bite we become intolerant of more lengthily explanations.

Contextomy can quickly fracture relationships we have with each other if we are not both tolerant and cognizant of the undesirable consequences of taking out of context that which we communicate with others can cause.

Though the art of the sound bite has become only recently more commonplace, it has been present in our communication for many decades. The fractures that have been inflicted on even close family relationship have produced riffs that have never healed and caused unreconcilable conflict.

How Contextomy Affects Our Relationship with God

Communications issues present in our relationship with God can be spiritually fatal.

God has given us His Word, and the combined content of the scripture is complete and unabridged. There is nothing lacking and nothing there without value.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (CSB)

The complete collection of the scriptures (all) is inspired by God. He has given us His Word so we may understand who He is, so we may understand who we are in the relationship He provides for us, and He uses His Word to communicate His will in our lives.

To bolster this communications infrastructure God has put in place for us, He’s gone way beyond what we might think is the ample context of His being and our relationship with Him. He has more than established the parameters and definitions we need to conduct our lives in compliance to His will for us. What God has done with the ascension of His Son to heaven, is to provide for us the ultimate communications expediter, the Holy Spirit.

God’s Holy Spirit living in us enhances the communications interface we have between us and God. First, He acts as our guide and teaches us the insights of the scripture that our eyes are blind to. Faithful Christians of many years can read the same scripture hundreds of times and yet find new significant applications of that scripture anytime they expose themselves to the scripture.

This is because the Holy Spirit is there to enlighten us.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.

John 14:16-17 (CSB)

The “Spirit of truth”, speaks to the Holy Spirit’s ability to speak truth to us through the Word of God. Revelation after revelation is divulged to us as we feed on the Word of God. As our walk with the Lord deepens the Holy Spirit and the Word are there to deepen our understanding of Him and the message imbedded in the scripture.

No downside here, right?

No, there isn’t from God’s side of the conversation. However, despite God being perfect and His means of communicating with us being perfect as well, we are flesh and as a result there is the potential for this contextomy issue to inflict damage to our ability to function effectively within the framework.

Under Fueled – The first potential issue is under fueling. Not spending enough time in the Word and/or not regarding the content of the scripture in its complete context. The sound bite mentality can creep into our time in the Word. If you want to test this issue, just mention some details from the book of Leviticus and watch eyes roll.

There are two issues that can come to bear here.

The quantity of our consumption of the Word.

“Truly I tell you, anyone who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

John 6:47-51 (CSB)

Jesus and the Word are synonymous. He says He is the bread of life. This life-giving bread doesn’t feed the flesh but feeds the spirit of the Disciple of Christ Jesus.

Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation, if you have tasted that the Lord is good.

1 Peter 2:2-3 (CSB)

As we feed on the scripture, we provide ample resources to the Holy Spirit to provide insight into the Word of God. That revelation after revelation can’t take place unless we are making a regular habit of consuming this bread of life.

Next quality comes into play in our diet. It is critical for us to not just read and reference portions of scripture we find appealing and disregard the rest. This is where contextomy can deprive us of the nourishment we need.

Cherry picking our scripture is where we get in trouble and leads to a misunderstanding of God’s Word. This often is something we do without harmful intent. But there are those who would mislead believers with false doctrine predicated on carefully isolated portions of scripture.

For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Matthew 24:24 (CSB)

Fragmenting God’s Word is a Gateway to Apostacy

While typically we bristle at those preachers and teachers that have swayed apostate, there are those “elect” who are lead astray by the teaching and just as Christians are to disciple others and teach new disciples the commandments of Jesus, these followers of the false teachings are seeking to disciple other to keep them away from the Good News and ensnare them in the teaching of which they have succumbed.

We are only safe when we consider all the Word of God and not the appealing sound bites that are slewing about. Nothing of God will contradict the Word of God. The Word in its complete form is the final authority regarding God and His interaction with us.

There is an additional segment of false teachers which will claim to have inspiration independent of the Word of God. They will claim that there is an apostolic revitalization which has taken place and God is speaking through these ‘apostles’ and prophets.

A reminder to all of us what 2nd Timothy says about the scripture…

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (CSB)

Paul writes to Timothy, “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” There is no additional inspiration required and God’s Word is complete. Any person who tells you they have messages from God is an apostate teacher and you need to stand firm in the Word of God and seek the protection of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, while fully equipping yourself with the complete armor of God.

We need to be careful of contextomy both in our interaction with each other and with God. John also warns us…

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1 (CSB)

This test is the complete Word of God. Not bits and pieces. In context and in its fullness. Wary of any contextomy.

In His Grace,
Kip…

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