My mother tells me of a time that I don’t remember well. When I was around 2nd or 3rd grade, I was walking home from the bus stop after school (back in the day when kids were allowed to do such things). The windows of our house were open and she could hear me singing as approached the house. Suddenly, the sweet melodic sound of my voice was replaced with crying. Our next-door neighbor boy, Luis, had jumped out from behind the hedgerow and whacked me on the head with a small pipe. You might guess that we weren’t fast friends. Over the few years that we lived in that house we had a handful of disagreements that resulted in fisticuffs a few times.
Have you ever read a piece of scripture and thought to yourself, “You must be joking?”
Like when the Apostle Paul writes to the Romans, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Or when Jesus says that we must forgive each other’s sins or we won’t be forgiven. You might be tempted to decide it’s just a ridiculous scripture that is too hard. I mean, are we really supposed to forgive those who harm us? Forgiveness releases us from carrying the weight of bitterness within us. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse or condone hurtful behavior nor does forgiveness require that a person stay in an unsafe position or relationship.
We must face scripture that we find challenging. Recently, I used 4 buckets in a sermon to represent the ways we might classify scripture. The categories were: 1) Scripture we have never read, 2) Scripture we don’t understand, 3) Scripture we don’t like, and 4) Scripture we like or at least we’ve embraced.
It’s important for us to recognize that we all have these buckets and that it isn’t always easy to reach that fourth bucket.
3 Steps for embracing scripture:
- Embrace that biblical scripture is from God for our guidance. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Remember that the God who put the stars in place and foreknew you knows more than you and has the best for you.
- Wrestle with the difficult passages – don’t give up. God is not put off by your questions or struggles – He can handle all your frustration, anger, and questions. Growth takes place in the earnest struggle.
- Pray – Ask God to reveal the deeper truth behind the scripture so that you may experience a change of heart. This process may take some time so be patient, your persistence will be rewarded.
It’s easy enough for me to forgive Luis for something that I don’t even remember. The challenge comes in forgiving someone for a fresh wound. Keeping scripture in the right bucket and keeping our hearts right – that is the challenge.
My encouragement to you is to never give up, never stay the same, keep moving scripture from bucket to bucket. Don’t try to make scripture match your thought process, adapt yourself to the wisdom of the God breathed scripture.