Bumper-sticker Christianity quickly falls apart. By that I mean those verses and quotes that pass around the rear end of a car or fit nicely atop someone’s Facebook wall. We say them, they make us feel good, and everyone is the better for it, right?
Some may argue that this is harmless.
If I’m honest, this has always bothered me. I love the Bible. I love studying it and I love watching God come alive all around me as I understand Him more each day. I’m not sure if it’s that, or my contrarian personality, which causes me to cringe when I watch well-intentioned Christians quote Scripture out of context. I’m confident this isn’t done with any ill intent. But it happens often. Let me give you one of the big ones that gets used.
“‘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.’” Jeremiah 29:11
Who wouldn’t love that verse? The only problem is that we use that verse as a blanket description of God’s intent for our lives today. So why is that a problem? Because God said it to a specific group of Israelites at a very specific time in history. We know this because chapter twenty-nine begins with this setup: