By Karen Woodall
Blogger over at Switchbacks.com
Have you ever seen the letters – TL;DR? They often show up in the comment section of a social media post or on a discussion group. They mean – “Too Long; Didn’t Read”. When I saw this acronym the other day, it made me realize just how much the world has become so full of short blasts of information that are rich in graphics but often poor in depth of content. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those swirly brightly colored sayings that pop up daily on Instagram, facebook or Pinterest. Simple, short pithy thoughts that may be true, but don’t give much real insight or guidance as to how to actually make the sentiment stick in your life.
It seems like that today anything that stretches beyond three sentences –let alone three paragraphs or certainly not, three pages- rarely seems worth the investment of time it takes to decipher the point and digest the author’s meaning. Occasionally when a lengthy article does make the rounds, it’s often preceded with an apology as in, ‘This is long, but worth the read…’ or ‘Regrets in advance for the length of this post.” While it’s great to have a take-away nugget to put in your pocket that’s less than 140 characters, (I mean, who isn’t busy these days), the increasing corporate lack of ability to focus on anything for very long has detrimental implications for believers that goes far beyond social media interaction.
Just think about it… Have you allowed yourself to exist on a summarized faith that could be noted an index card, a bumper sticker, or a sign on a desk? One verse with no context. Or a single quote from an influential saint or visionary from a bygone era. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about committing scripture to memory and there is much to learn from Christians who have lived before us, but how many people have a favorite verse, but don’t know to whom it was written, what comes before or after, or have any idea how it relates to the rest of the chapter, not to mention its place in the whole of scripture?
And if we were to really begin to investigate the foundation of the things that we say we believe, would we be willing to delve deeply into weighty and complex matters that demand much time to consider and much thought to process? Concepts that our believing predecessors spent a lifetime writing and teaching about? Or are we much more likely to briefly survey the whole counsel of God and by our actions, dismissively stamp it TL;DR?
The scripture is long, but it deserves (and demands) to be read deliberately and digested slowly. But consuming a steady diet of snippets, quick videos and news briefs has made too many, including those in the body of Christ, flabby and intellectually out of shape. And sadly, most go through life interpreting the truth of the messages that come to them based on nothing more concrete than if it harmonized with something they heard as a child or if it “sounds” plausible or “feels” right.
Scripture gives us ageless principles upon which to base our convictions… Unchanging doctrines as solid as any anchor or lighthouse. When we base our suppositions only on what we think, it is then that we’re setting ourselves on a untethered path that could send our lives dangerously off course. Really, our opinions are no more valid than anyone else’s. The only thing that solidifies our position is when it rests on the foundation of God’s unchanging wisdom and living guidance.
As the world seems to spiral more and more out of control, it requires something more substantial than a placard to hold us in place against a changing tide, more than a bumper sticker to define us as different during difficult times, and more than a slogan to shine the light on Jesus in the advancing darkness of the shifting and changing world.
So when it comes to God Word, erase your temptation to mentally write over it TL;DR Instead, try a new acronym… TI;RN… Too Important; Read Now!
Karen Woodall, blogger over at Switchbacks.org. , is one of my favorite bloggers to read. She’s at her best, to me, at taking personal stories from her own family and relating them to God’s principles.