For most people, the Bible is intimidating. When I think about how to justify that statement, two truths come to mind. One truth is pretty objective and the second is more subjective. Truth 1) The Bible is the best-selling and most distributed book of all time. With estimates of over 6 billion Bibles sold (not counting all of the free digital copies available), the distribution of the Bible dwarfs any other book that has ever existed. Simply put, people have access to the Bible. Everyone reading this blog can get to a Bible with just a few keystrokes. We have the Bible.
Truth 2) While there’s no hard data to substantiate this claim, I would bet that there’s no other book that readers have failed to read in its entirety. People partially and half-read a lot of books, but I would guess that this happens more frequently with the Bible than any other book.
Simply put, the Bible is intimidating. This intimidation often leads to insecurity when it comes to approaching to the Bible. And unfortunately, insecurity eventually leads to inactivity.
Through the course of this summer, however, our desire is that we would use this blog to reverse that trend. We want to increase your activity in Bible reading by removing the insecurities that comes with approaching the Bible. If we can remove the insecurity then maybe it will be less intimidating and we’ll see more involvement.
Most of the Bible is Pretty Clear
Most of the Bible is straightforward and clear cut. The Bible isn’t a book full of riddles. The Bible is God’s revelation to the world. It’s a book that was written in common language by 40 different men over the course of about 1500 years. There’s one story line, one thread, and one hero that helps us fit the whole Bible together. This book is a story about mankind being estranged from their Father (the God of the Universe) because we’ve willingly turned our back on Him in pursuit of other things. This God has pursued us relentlessly, showing us in one act— the crucifixion of His Son Jesus— both (1) His hatred for sin and (2) His love for His people. The Bible is a book about Jesus’ work to save sinners and restore them back to an intimate and fulfilling relationship with God. Every book of the Bible points to this end (c.f. Luke 24, John 5:39). Seems pretty simple, right?
Hard to Understand
However, while most of the Bible is simple, straightforward, and easy to understand, there are certain things that are confusing. You have the whole concept of the Trinity (somehow God is one person yet three at the same time?). Not to mention the apparent double talk that exists. There are certain verses of the Bible talk about salvation as completely an act of God (God draws men to Himself), yet somehow God is just in holding people responsible for their rejection of Him. Also, there’s a story of a guy who sacrifices His child to God (Judges 10-11), laws in Leviticus that tell us not wear polyester (Leviticus 19:19), and that eating clam chowder is an abomination (Leviticus 11:9-12). In the New Testament it even seems like the apostle Paul (the greatest missionary other than Jesus) tells men that they can’t grow their hair long and that women shouldn’t get buzz cuts. In a nutshell, while most of the Bible is simple, straightforward, and clear, all of it isn’t so.
Easy to Understand, Hard to Accept
There are other things in the Bible that are pretty straightforward and easy to understand, but they’re just hard to accept. For example, how can a loving God send people to hell for eternity? How can a loving God order an apparent genocide of tens of thousands of people? How can this God seemingly condone slavery, but condemn homosexuality? (Doesn’t that seem backwards from the world that we live in? I mean, modern society has “evolved” to the point of condemning slavery and condoning sexual “freedom”… didn’t God get the memo?) That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of things that are clear in the Bible, but leave us feeling like God is anything but loving. There are things we read that make it seem as if God is cold and apathetic. It’s bad enough that there are things that aren’t clear, but even the things that are clear are hard to accept.
There Are Answers, But There Aren't Always Easy Ones
If the Bible isn’t confusing enough, we’ve come to know that life itself rarely pans out the way that we hoped that it would. God does things that puzzle us. People who don’t want to have kids have them all the time, while people that want kids struggle for years to conceive or adopt. The wicked in this world prosper while it seems like the good guys finish list. It’s not just the Bible that’s a mystery— life itself is a mystery. God is a mystery. The Bible is written to help us to know this great God. Where else can we go to understand God? Where else can we go to make sense of why God allows hard times to come to people that love Him? The only way that we can make sense of this is if God Himself tells us why He does these things. In the Bible, He does. He’s not trying to hide Himself. He’s eager to make Himself available to us.
While the Bible does answer some of the tensions, the Bible won’t answer every tension. There are certain things that are reserved for God and God alone. While there are certain things that He won’t ever let us in on, there are other things that He has revealed clearly and we’re to spend our time trying to obey.
Some of the answers don’t close the loop as tight as we would like it. God is incomprehensible— it’s impossible to grasp Him fully. His ways are higher than ours. Oftentimes God’s work makes much more sense in hindsight than it does in foresight. In this, we learn that success is not a total and complete knowledge of God’s will, but total and complete trust in it.
Over the course of the next few months, we’ll use the blog to seek to answer a few “tough” questions. I use the quotes around tough because with each one that we answer, my hope is that you see that things aren’t as inconsistent and intimidating at first glance.
We don’t want to dream up these questions or answer questions that you aren’t asking. We want this to be extremely practical. We want this to be a place where you can get answers to the questions you come across as you are trying to explain God to people who don’t know Him or misunderstand Him, or even questions you have yourself.
So let’s begin… who’s got the first question? Leave a comment below!