Sometimes we assume that only unbelievers and atheists struggle with the bible and when you become a Christian it should all make sense. Nope.
Christians struggle with the bible too
In fact, we probably struggle more so, because…well, have you read some of the stuff in there? Sometimes we come across awkward scriptures (*cough Leviticus) and it doesn’t seem to line up with the life-giving, wonderful, loving, kind, saviour Jesus that we know and fell in love with. It makes us embarrassed on behalf of God, feel powerless to defend him, and it rattles our worldview.
I remember when I was younger I had a scripture tattooed to my ankle. The burly, gruff tattoo artist made a scathing comment that “there’s a lot of (*insert profanity here*) in the bible.” Talk about making your customer uncomfortable!
So when we come across stuff we don't understand, our reaction is to freak out. But remember this: if it tarnished the character of God it wouldn't be in there. Nothing evil or wicked can come from God, because there is nothing bad in Him. It’s like trying to say there’s darkness in light - not possible. Darkness is the ABSENCE of light. Evil and corruption is the ABSENCE of God ruling and reigning in people’s hearts. So
YOU DON'T HAVE TO DEFEND GOD
God's not embarrassed or sheepish about the uncomfortable stuff in the bible - so you shouldn't be either. When we come across passages that are awkward, confusing, uncomfortable, or contradicting, here’s some helpful hints to keep you from quickly flicking back to Psalms and Proverbs so your world can make sense again.
1) ASK THE AUTHOR
But seriously. God wrote the Book. All scripture is God-inspired, (2 Timothy 3:16) which in the Greek means “God-breathed”. God spoke the words of scripture and breathed His spirit into them - and used humanity to pen those words. What the penmen of the bible wrote originated beyond themselves. Ok, we can’t sit down and chat with Moses about Genesis - but we can cry out to the Holy Spirit, who is a person who will help you understand. He is the Spirit of Truth, who leads us into all truth.
/// John 1 6 : 1 3 ///
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
2) CONTRADICTION IS AN INVITATION
Remember that it's impossible for the bible to contradict itself even at times it appears like it does - choosing to give different details isn’t a contradiction. When you stumble across something that doesn’t add up: it's an invitation to search deeper.
Don’t think of scripture as a square, but more like a 3-dimensional cube. What you see on the surface has more depth to it, so don't freak out at first glance. It's like when you look at a white frosted cake - you can guess and assume all you like, but really you have no idea whether it's fruit cake or mud cake inside until you get a knife and cut it open. Ok I could've used a better example but I'm hungry.
… And there's no cake in my fridge.
So instead of glossing over scripture that doesn’t make sense, grab a cutting tool and dig a little further for context and truth. And remember:
A GREAT STUDENT ASKS LOTS OF QUESTIONS
(Read TOOLS FOR TREASURE HUNTING for some great devotional life tools or subscribe via the home page)
3) GOD USES SCREWED UP PEOPLE
What about scriptures like
/// Judges 14:19 ///
”Then the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of everything and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he returned to his father's home.”
But hold up, you’ve just made an assumption. You assume because God worked with this person and used them for mighty things, that He endorses all of their decisions. Not so. Did God approve of King David’s adultery? No. What about all Solomon’s wives and concubines? Nope. And the oppression of women in ancient culture? Not even close. Is God good enough to work a perfect will through completely imperfect people? You bet. Sometimes
stuff is in there to reflect how evil people have BECOME, and our NEED for God.
God is committed first and foremost to saving his people but all he has to work with in the Old Testament is corrupt humanity - and so work with them He does.
4) DOUBT IS NOT A DIRTY WORD
If you come across something that makes you doubt - don’t despair, because faithless doubt can create further doubt. But:
there's such a thing as faithful doubt
Doubt is a signal that should point you to the Source of the answer, much like pain is an uncomfortable signal in our body that moves us into action.
There’s a difference between a skeptic and a cynic
- a sceptic is someone who struggles to believe until there’s an answer. A cynic is someone who won’t believe even if there is. If you fall into category 1, relax - that kind of “doubt” is what drives us into the knowledge of truth because it moves us to find out more.
P.S. seek and you shall find!
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