My wife and I ate at a local Asian buffet the other day. Its billboard boasts that there are over 300 items served on the buffet. A slight exaggeration in my opinion, but that’s beside the point. Like at most Asian restaurants, we received fortune cookies with our check. My wife and I opened our fortune cookies, expecting their messages to be extremely vague and humorous as usual. You know, something along the lines of … “Make no major decisions for the time being,” “Use caution in dealing with friends,” or “An unexpected gift will arrive from a friend.”
But we were surprised! The cookie messages were timely and offered good advice for situations that we are going through collectively. We were taken aback by the messages we were thinking would be just generic advice.
Was God speaking to us through a fortune cookie?
Some would say yes; others would say no. But the real question is are we as Christians are using and applying the primary way God reveals His plan and His will for our lives – the Bible?
Pew Forum conducted a survey in 2009 that looked at how many Americans mix multiple faiths together for their own concoction, picking and choosing what to follow from a type of spiritual buffet. According to the survey:
29% of Christians believe to have been in contact with the dead.
17% believe they have had a ghostly experience.
14% have consulted a psychic.
23% believe in spiritual energy in trees, etc.
23% believe in astrology.
22% believe in reincarnation.
21% believe in yoga as a spiritual practice.
17% percent believe in evil eye (i.e. casting of curses)
Compare the above findings to a 2014 Gallup poll on the Bible in which only 34% of Christians were found to believe that the Bible is the actual word of God, and should be taken literally.
In short, there are many people who profess to be Christians but don’t actually believe what’s in the Bible.
Yet, God has given us clear instructions in His Word on how and where we are to seek Him. For example:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
Joshua 1:8 – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Matthew 4:4 –“[I]t is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Romans 15:4 – “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
2 Peter 1:20-21 – “[K]nowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Sadly, man has a tendency to go outside of Scripture, as we see in the last verse above, to search for life’s purpose and destination, all while going against the will of God. God has revealed Himself to us primarily through Scripture and has given us the tools to communicate with Him. Not only is it in our best interest to use what He has given us; it is also in our best interest to use only the ways and tools that come from Him.
So to answer the question about fortune cookies that I asked earlier: Yes, God could speak through fortune cookies if He so chose, but I am looking for better direction for my life than “you will have a good day tomorrow, but bring an umbrella.”