“God’s Word will never change your life until you let it become personal” – Rick Warren
Saddleback Church pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren says Christians should “personalize” scripture by inserting themselves into certain biblical passages.
In an entry found on Rick Warren‘s Daily Hope website published Sunday, Warren wrote a meditation centered on the Bible verse Philippians 1:6.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns,” reads the verse, as rendered by the New Living Translation, Second Edition.
Warren stated that “God’s Word will never change your life until you let it become personal” and advised using what he called the “personalize-it method of Bible meditation.”
“You simply put your name in the place of pronouns or nouns in Scripture. For example, if I were personalizing John 3:16, I’d write something like this: ‘For God so loved Rick, he gave his one and only Son so that Rick would not perish but have everlasting life’,” wrote Warren.
“Or, for Philippians 1:6: ‘He who began a good work in Rick Warren will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.'”
Warren went on to note that if one uses the “personalize-it method,” that the results will “strengthen your faith and encourage yourself.”
“Do this, and many passages of Scripture will literally bring tears to your eyes. You’ll start to read the Bible as God’s love letter to you,” continued Warren.
“It’ll be God’s gift to you! Reading your Bible isn’t just about getting to know the content of the Word. It’s about getting to know the author of the Word — personally!”
Warren is not the only pastor to advocate for personalizing scripture. Last year The CityLight Church in Chicago Gregory Ijiwola and his wife launched the ToYouBible App.
The app involved placing a person’s name within the text of a Bible verse. One ad for the ToYouBible App had a man named Mike Walker having Micah 6:8 sent to his phone, with the text rendered “He has shown Mike Walker what is good. What does God require of him, but for Mike Walker to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God?”
Some expressed concern over the app. The Rev. Dr. Christopher J. Benek, an expert on Christianity and technology, told The Christian Post in an interview last year that he saw “several significant concerns” with the App including questions of biblical context.
“To ignore that context by simply inserting one’s own name, and thus one’s own cultural context into the text, ignores the purpose for which the text was originally written,” said Rev. Benek.
“When we make the Bible all about us as individuals, we miss the focus of the larger relational narrative which tells of God’s grace and love being extended to all of humanity. It likewise further sidesteps the reality that it is the work of Christian community, in Christ not just individuals, to work towards mutual accountability and justice.”