12 Mar What’s Your Source?
I love YouTube! There is so much information available; you could practically earn a PhD. I have learned how to study more effectively, how to fix my office chair, and how to rehab my sore knee. The range of topics is endless. And the sources! There are all manners of social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like. Search engines seem to know the perfect answer to the questions I ask, from where to find the best Mexican restaurant in my area to understanding complex medical conditions. It is amazing how the suggested posts or videos appear to be on point with topics I am interested in. I thoroughly enjoy the advantages of the World Wide Web.
But it is a bit, ok, a lot creepy, as well. My daughter and I were having a conversation about her recent interest in a potential career as a flight attendant. About an hour later she picked up her phone to scroll through social media and there was an ad to train to be a Delta flight attendant. The timing was more than coincidental. After a bit of research, we discovered how new phones can “listen” to your conversations and target advertising specific to what they hear. We changed our privacy settings to prevent that from happening again.
Not only do we have to be careful of our devices listening to us, we have to be careful of who we listen to.
As I was listening to a really good episode of a Christian ministry discussing the keys to healthy marriages, YouTube suggested another video on marriage from an unfamiliar counselor. The title was intriguing, so I listened. The first 2/3 was good teaching. However, the last 1/3 took a drastic turn into not only unconventional, but unbiblical, teaching. I don’t know if the computer linked the topics to suggest the video or if the counselor targeted Christian marriage ministries, but either way it was not good counseling and was even downright harmful.
To Google a question such as “Where in the Bible can I find the story of David and Bathsheba?” will give a very objective answer to point you in the right direction to find what you are looking for. But to Google a question that needs more of an interpretive answer could be tricky. There are millions of voices that feed the answers on the Internet and you have to be careful who you invite into the conversation of research. Without a solid understanding of Scripture, the multitude of “opinions” on the Internet could muddle any topic.
As we try to gain deeper understanding of Scripture, how do we know what is accurate? How do we discern what information is truthful and helpful to our understanding? How can we gain biblical wisdom?
1 Thessalonians 5:21 instructs, “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.”
We are going to grow in understanding and wisdom by taking steps to properly examine what we hear.
- Meditate on Scripture. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the meaning as you read and think about the Scripture.
- Ask your pastor and Bible study teacher for good resources to study with – whether books or online. Pastors and teachers are students first and probably have a list of favorite resources to share with you.
- Remember Scripture supports Scripture. Looking at the cross references for the passage you are studying may give additional insights which lead to greater understanding.
- The Bible is over 2000 years old and it will take effort to learn about the biblical culture to help clarify the intended meanings. Understanding the context is vitally important to understand difficult passages.
- The biblical practices may have changed but the principles have not. The principles understood by the original readers should be the same principles we understand today. Our modern culture does not change the meaning of the Scriptures.
- Engaging in discussions about the Scriptures broadens our understanding – both by hearing how other people have wrestled with the text and by articulating our own understanding.
- Participating in quality Bible studies is an excellent way to understand what the Scriptures teach. While there are quality studies that focus on a particular topic, a study which focuses on knowing the Scripture as a whole will provide a deeper level of understanding.
Growing in knowledge and understanding of God’s Word keeps us from being deceived and grows us in His grace. While there is no shortage of information available, the more we focus on learning Scripture, the more we can discern what is truthful and helpful. Listening to the right voices is the key to applying truth to our lives – that is wisdom.
Written by Traci Martin