It is strange how we choose different words from the Bible to latch on to. Yvonne and I just returned from a two-week vacation through West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. We visited some historical sites there and some mentioned the Appalachian Baptist who made the foundation of their faith handling poisonous snakes. They centered their religious experiences on the Bible verse that goes “and they shall take up snakes and they will not be harmed” (or something like that). The stories told of some who were bitten dozens of times and lived to tell about it. But there were also stories of those who were bitten and then died. I guess to them that was an indication that their faith was not strong enough.
But in my mind this practice is not really that unusual. That is the practice of latching on to a particular verse, not the snake handling choice. 🙂 Many of the current day denominations give extra special meaning to their “favorite” verse. The one that I am most familiar with are Lutherans. They latch onto the verse “your salvation is a gift from God… so that no one can boast”. They take these words to mean that nothing is required of them to call themselves Christians except to “live by faith”. And to them living by faith means waiting for the next life. Nothing is required during this one.
I am not a person to latch on to one favorite verse and then leave the others orphaned. I believe that Jesus had numerous very strong messages through his ministry about living on this earth. It is too bad that many today seem to find it necessary to find one thing and almost forget the rest. That is not what being a Christian means to me. Latching one to only once thing does make practicing their religion much easier but Jesus also made it clear that being his disciples was not intended to be an easy thing.