Weekend Edition of NPR ran a story about the rising rate of obesity in France. It explained how this trend runs counter to the French culinary tradition of slow cooked meals of healthy foods eaten around the family table. A finger was pointed in the direction of American culture as imported through movies and television and it was suggested that the fast food/drive through eating habits portrayed there are responsible for the decline
I’ll leave it to the nutritionists and sociologists to debate the truth of that, but I know this much—we do ourselves no favors if we adopt a fast food, microwave approach to the Scripture. To treat the Bible like a drive through where we order a verse or two with a side order of a thought for the day is good as far as it goes, it just doesn’t go far enough. We’re in a spiritual war. Our enemy is launching RPGs at us—we can’t expect to survive if we are fighting in street clothes! We need the protection God provides it through His word (Psalm 119:11).
Three times Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness and three times He responds from the word of God. His quotes all come from Deuteronomy—the book that records the nation of Israel’s failures in the wilderness and the lessons they should have learned there. Jesus shows that He has learned in forty days what the nation failed to learn over forty years. He is not only the new Israel, He is the true Israel.
In regard to Satan, whatever else we might said of him this much is certain: he is an insidious opponent. The Scriptures speak of his cunning nature and warn us to be aware of his schemes (Ephesians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 2:11). We get a good look at this in the wilderness. Satan sees Jesus’ dependence upon God’s word, immediately adapts his strategy, and quotes from Psalm 91 in an attempt to entice Jesus to act presumptuously. Of course, he misapplies the word and Jesus calls him out on it, but what should alarm us is that Satan’s treatment of the Scripture bears a frightening resemblance to the fast food approach.
He takes a passage out of context and quotes what it says, but doesn’t deal with what it means. On the surface his suggestion looked plausible. If Jesus trusted His Father to such an extent that He was willing to frame His life around God’s words, then a leap from the temple would show His faith that God would, “. . . command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone,” (v. 11-12). It took discernment to see through the packaging, the kind of discernment a get-it-and-go approach to Scripture just doesn’t have time for.
This brings to mind the One Minute Bible for Students. The OMBFS is what its title suggests—“366 daily one-minute readings.” There is a one minute application following each reading as well as the author’s congratulations (“I applaud you for digging in”). Seriously? We’re challenging young people in AP courses with this? Do we think a couple of minutes of Bible study squeezed in between social media and gaming marathons are going to produce the next generation of disciples or just more religious consumers? And despite assurances from both the editor and author that the OMBFS is but an introductory tool, I can’t help wondering if that message will be heard over the din of the title. It’s like the nutritional information on fast food products—if people really paid attention to it the drive throughs wouldn’t be doing the business they are.
Not everyone is gifted to be a Bible scholar, but we can all learn to dig deep into the Scripture. It does take some time and effort, but there are wonderful treasures to be found and shared (Matthew 13:52). And Jesus showed that digging deep will help us to stand tall.