Matthew 23 Does Not, Of Course, Apply to Me

Tuesday Re-mix –

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long…”  Matthew 23:5

bibleWhen I was in High School, my Dad gave me a Ryrie Study Bible.  I wore it out.  I was proud of that Bible.  It wasn’t just the huge size of it (it was a larger Bible than the hard-back “Living Bible” so many of my friends carried)…it was all the commentary in it that made me proud.  It was a little unusual for my circle of High School friends, so it drew some attention.  And when friends opened it up to look at it, it just screamed “THE OWNER OF THIS BIBLE IS A BIBLE SCHOLAR AND A TRULY SPIRITUAL PERSON!”  Seriously.  You could hear it. The advantage, of course, of having that Bible was that I didn’t have to tell anyone anything about me in order to manage their perception of me.  They need only have seen my Bible.  I liked that.

In 1984, on my 24th birthday, my Dad gave me a “preaching bible”.  It was black, with a very thin profile.  By then, I had grown mature enough in my Christian walk to be a little embarrassed by my huge Study Bible(s).  (I actually had several of them by then.)  This “Thin Line” Bible was understated.  When friends saw it, it said (in a very low key, nonchalant voice), “the owner of this Bible has so much scripture crammed into his brain, he doesn’t really need a big study Bible.”  My attitude toward Study Bibles had changed.  Actually, I think I heard a Christian comedian make a joke about huge Study Bibles and how pretentious they were and it changed how I saw them.  I certainly did not want to be perceived as pretentious.  So, my managing of others’ perception of me was a little more refined…now, it was actually “reverse snobbery”.  It was like driving a Honda instead of a Lexus.  “I don’t need that big Bible to be Spiritual.”  You know what I mean.  Admit it.

I have actually used that Bible for the last 27 years or so.  I particularly use it often when I speak.  I use it for studying as well.  It is my favorite.  But I once saw Len Sweet speak without any Bible at all, and when he needed one, he just used the one from the back of the pew in the church where he was speaking.  It was very cool.  Len is very cool.  He didn’t wear socks when he spoke, and I liked that.  And I loved his use of someone else’s Bible.  I thought to myself, “I can do that.”  It is endearing to my audience, saying, “I respect YOUR Bible.”  It also says, “I am so intimately familiar with God’s Word, that I can use this unfamiliar Bible to make my point.”  That is a good thing to say, don’t you think?  I like that perception, though I do choose to wear socks when I speak.  Almost always.

I also have YouVersion on my iPhone.  I know that many of you do as well.  There are multiple advantages to it.  I now have about a hundred or so translations and paraphrases at my fingertips…on my phone.  Very, very cool.  And it has audible versions as well, so I can listen to it in my car.  People driving by me can see me listening to scripture.  Also, I actually copied and pasted the scripture at the top of this blog post using my iPhone.  Hard to beat that.  Now, when I am with friends or audiences who might appreciate it, I can read scripture from my phone.  I like that message.  It says, “I am hip, I am progressive, I have the Word of God embedded in the most important single piece of technology I have ever owned.”  As long as I use a little judgment with regard to when and where I use it, I can manage people’s perception of my spirituality like never before.  Awesome little tool, don’t you agree?

As for the scripture at the top of this post…it’s not really there for my benefit.  It is for you.

I, after all, have memorized it.


© Blake Coffee

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