HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT THE BIBLE?
Can I answer for all of us?
No, none of us have it all figured out. And we’re driving the rest of the world crazy with our arrogance when we say we do.
Honestly, who among us can thoroughly explain any book? Can we take even one short poem written in our native language and say we understand every word, every nuance, every intention, every motive behind every word choice?
How much less should we say we fully understand the Bible, with its Spirit-inspired authors? Who can dare claim comprehension of each of God’s words, nuances, intentions, and motives?
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
While God’s knowledge has no end, ours does. We’re constrained by our intellect, by our experiences, by our environment, by our humanity. We cannot figure God out. Not now. Not ever. We’re not smart enough.
BUT WE CAN KNOW SOME
So does that mean we can’t understand the Bible at all? Should we quit studying altogether? Of course not. There are many things we can know.
- We can know God is love.
- We can know he is for us.
- We can know he wants us to love him and love each other.
But we can stop thinking we understand it all. We don’t.
Even among the smartest, humblest, and sincerest Bible scholars today, there is major disagreement on interpretations.
If you’ve ever changed your mind on what you believed about a biblical text, you’ve proven there’s room for growth. (And if you’ve never changed an opinion? Challenge yourself to learn something new.)
WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT
- 1. Apologize
Practice saying, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” If even other Christians don’t want to hear our arguments, we’re probably better known for our arrogance than our love. As much as the Lord hates haughtiness, so does everyone else. We need to ask forgiveness for our pridefulness, our claims to have all the answers.
- 2. Keep studying
Don’t stop learning. It takes me 2-3 year cycles to read through the Bible. Yet no matter how many times I’ve read through the Bible in my adult life, each time I learn something new. I see where I’ve been wrong in the past, and I leave space open for what I’m missing now (because I know it’s something; I’m just too blind to see it yet).
- 3. Ask questions
Ask God. Ask fellow believers. Ask those who believe differently than you. Questions help us grow closer to the truth. The more we learn about God, the more we see there’s more to know.
- 4. Make peace with uncertainty
Let go of your love affair with certainty. It’s okay that we can’t know it all. It’s not our knowledge that saves us; it’s Jesus. Substitute an “I think” instead of always “I know.” Try “as I understand it now” instead of “this is the way it is.” We misquote God too often (and misrepresent him even more).
- 5. Depend more on Jesus
When we release our know-it-all attitude, we have extra capacity for dependence. Let’s trade in our “rightness” for Jesus’ righteousness. We can place all our certainty on him. Throw yourself fully on grace; it’s big enough to cover even our ignorance.
WHAT MATTERS MOST
Live your faith with love.
In the end, the family who needs me to buy their lunch doesn’t really care how I interpret 1 Corinthians 15:29. The homeless man asking for a blanket isn’t interested in my eschatological opinion. The young mama who is entrusting me with her child for the night doesn’t first require my credentials for scriptural exegesis.
They want to know if I’ll be kind to them. If I’ll help them. If I’ll show them dignity and compassion and grace.
- They’re not interested in my opinions about a Bible passage; they want to know am I living it?
- They don’t want to hear my theological dissertations about God; they want to see am I acting like him?
- They don’t care to debate over doctrine; they want to know can I love?
That’s what matters most. That’s what I learn from God in the Bible and in real life. Not to argue, but to love.
Because we won’t always be right. Actually, rarely so.
But we will always be loved.
That’s what I care about most.
* * *
What do you think? I’d love to hear in the comments.
- When we eat our own
Let’s quit thinking we’re the only ones who know enough or care enough to love God. Others may be equally sincere and smart. And saved.
- What are you known for?
Are we a “people of the book”, or “people of God”? I’d rather be known for who I worship than for what I know.
- When you’re not sure
We can’t always wait for 100% clarity. Including on matters of faith. Let’s stop being scared of being wrong.
- I thought I understood
Why I thought we were right and everyone else was wrong
- When you think you’re better
Thinking we are better than others only makes us worse. Knowing Jesus is better brings out the best in all.
- Stupid or smart?
But now I know being stupid is overlooking grace. And being smart is trusting God.
- When you can’t repay
- How can we be brave?