One Sunday I confused my congregation when I announced that I was reading from Leviticus 18, but on the screen behind me they saw the reference listed as Leviticus 28 (which I had incorrectly entered into the PowerPoint). Members saw the words on the screen, and started looking in their Bibles for chapter 28 of Leviticus. Unfortunately, Leviticus ends at chapter 27.
That incident reminds me of a baptism service many years ago in Woodville, Miss. I was the youth minister and I also led the singing. The pastor was going to baptize some new believers after the sermon. He needed a time of transition between the sermon and the baptism to get ready, so he asked me to lead the congregation in a few songs. He also asked me to find that scripture about baptism in Matthew 6, and be ready to read it just before the baptism.
The baptistry had a curtain, so the pastor stood in the water behind the curtain, waiting for the curtains to part before he parted the waters in baptism.
We finished the songs, and I could hear the sound of the pastor standing in the water behind the curtain. So I opened my Bible and said, “Brother Ben asked me to read about baptism from Matthew 6.” However, when my eyes fell on the text, I saw that it was about prayer, not baptism. I wondered out loud, “Maybe he meant Mark 6.” But when I turned to the second gospel, I saw that Mark wrote about Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth. So I said, “Let’s turn to Luke 6.” There, to my dismay, I saw some words about Jesus being Lord of the Sabbath; I wanted him to be Lord of baptism right there. So I told the congregation that surely Brother Ben meant John 6, but when I opened the Bible to that passage, I saw that it was about the feeding of the 5,000.
At this point I stopped, unsure what to do next. I didn’t want to go through all 27 books of the New Testament in a vain search for the passage that the pastor wanted read. The congregation looked almost as confused as I was. To my great relief, a voice boomed out from behind the curtain, proclaiming, “Romans 6!”
My baptismal bumble looking for Romans 6 or my errant PowerPoint mispointing to Leviticus 28 were innocent enough. However, it’s not so innocent when people twist scripture to make it say what it does not really say.
I once read a letter to the editor in a daily newspaper that quoted Jesus from the cross, when in fact Jesus did not say what this person claimed at all.
Watch out for people who loudly proclaim what the Bible says. Check their words with the scripture to make sure that they know what they’re talking about.
When the apostle Paul preached the gospel in a city known as Berea, the Bible says that they “examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11, HCSB). I’ll bet Paul couldn’t slip Leviticus 28 past the Bereans!
Copyright 2007 by Bob Rogers. Read this column each Thursday for a mix of religion and humor. You can read more “Holy Humor” on the Web page of First Baptist Church of Rincon at www.fbcrincon.com.