Mr Rogers, the bird, and context

I love Mr. Rogers. I really love Mr. Rogers. The more I hear about him the more I love him. I recently heard that for the last decade of his life he weighed 143 pounds and was thankful every morning when he stepped on the scale because he thought of it as a message from God saying, “I love you” because of the number of letters in the words. Only Fred Rogers would think that way. When he won his lifetime achievement award at the Emmy’s he asked everyone to be silent for a moment to remember the people in their life that encouraged them to get where they were now. He really was as kind as his show would have you believe.

So then what is this about?

 

You saw that correctly. That is actually Fred Rogers giving the finger. No way to explain that.

Well, except for that. Put into context this clip becomes completely innocent. Just Mr. Rogers and some kids singing a song about fingers. Context is so important.

Take for instance these verses, Isaiah 43:18-19.

Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

What an encouraging verse. This kind of thing needs to be put on the mailers of a church pushing for a new building project. This a verse for young preachers like me to preach to an older congregation like the one I serve in to get them to change their ways. In fact, it is often done for both of those things. But context is so important. A few verses later we read:

Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary, and deliver Jacob to utter destruction and Israel to reviling.

That’s the new thing God is up to. Destruction. That doesn’t preach as well.

Here is another example.

The wicked man writhes in pain all his days, through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless.

Isn’t that true? I mean, deep down aren’t all people who do wrong unhappy and miserable? This is good advice to give to young people who may be headed down the wrong path, right?

This was advice given to Job by a friend to comfort and instruct him. And Job, in the midst of suffering, argued and God ultimately vindicated Job. Which means that statement above isn’t true at all.

We can learn from Mr. Rogers, Isaiah, and Job that just a small part of a larger conversation is not enough to determine what is truly being said. Never determine a belief on one verse without reading at least the chapter it is in, preferably the book.

What are some verses that are hilarious, confusing, or just bad theology when taken out of context? Leave a comment and share your favorite.