In thinking about and planning for future speaking engagements, whether they be sermons, lectures, or even leading my bible study, I am thinking again about “application.” There seem to be lots of people out there saying that preaching the Word is not enough, it needs to be applied to our lives. There even seem to be many whose sermons are only geared toward the “application of truths to peoples lives,” many times through the popular 3 point sermon where the 3 points use one word all starting with the same letter, e.g., “pursuit, purpose, passion,” or something like that.
Without denying the truthfulness of Scripture needing to be “applied to our lives,” I think many have gone off the deep end in an effort to make everything immediately relevant in a way that people know is immediately relevant to their lives. This approach holds the Word hostage to our immediate needs, making everything person-centered rather than Christ-centered. The result, I believe, is to use the Bible as a personal application book for life’s little problems. However, the Bible is more than this.
The reason I think more needs to be said, and why I often shy away from such application, is that it fails to allow for the Word to shape our worldviews and transform our hearts. Instead it offers us a bunch of do’s and don’ts. “Be like David, he was a good man for the most part. Don’t be like David, however, when he committed adultery, that’s bad.” But if my worldview is me-centered, the command to not commit adultery, while extremely important and to be obeyed because it comes from God, we reason, may not be convenient for me at all times and should be done away with when I deem it “necessary.”
What I’m really on about is speaking against poor application that distorts the Bible and fails to recognize that teaching about Jesus and the good news and the kingdom, etc., really produces change in people so that they will, out of the overflow of their hearts, live as transformed kingdom people. In my opinion, this is good “application.” The application pointers beyond this may be useful, but not in order to short-circuit the true work of worldview transformation. And we could definitely use some worldview transformation rather than trying to fit Jesus into our people-centered worldviews.