There will come a time when you are studying the Bible that you uncover something which makes you feel uncomfortable. So, let’s discuss how to handle those moments.
If you know anything about me, you know I can’t handle awkward situations. Being a teacher for the past seven years, this has made it VERY difficult to do my job, especially because I teach middle schoolers. I would give you stories of my students, but I’m not sure if I would get sued so, for the sake of my financial security, we’ll be skipping story-time today.
Even though I won’t be sharing a personal story, I’m sure you can identify with the awkwardness of the following: feeling uncomfortable with a joke that was said. Standing in a elevator with only one other person who decides now is the perfect time to forcefully break wind. Going on a blind date with someone who turns out to be just as strange as we had feared. Or, better yet, we read a verse in the Bible and we say to ourselves, “Wait…What?”
Yes, even the Bible can get awkward.
We often don’t know what to do in these moments. How do we respond? As followers of Christ, what should we do when we encounter a teaching, a commandment, or a historical narrative we don’t like? I’m going to give us two considerations to keep in mind when things get awkward.
*In no way is this an exhaustive list of our response to Scripture. It is merely intended to get us headed in the right direction.
1. Embrace the Uncomfortableness of the Scriptures
What do I mean when I say, “the Bible can get awkward?” I’m referring to when we read something in the Bible that challenges who we are and the way we have chosen to live our lives. So, what do we do in this situation? We embrace the uncomfortableness we feel and head towards it with the purpose of seeking a better understanding.
Let me give you an example of how this can play out in someone’s life.. A young man experiences the saving grace which is only given through Jesus and starts reading the Bible to learn more about his Savior. While reading, he comes across II Corinthians 6:14 which states,
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness (ESV)?
This becomes a point of contention because he is currently dating someone who is not a Christian, and has made it known they have no intention of becoming a Christian. So, what does he do? Does he follow the commands of Scripture or does he rationalize in his own mind why it is better for him to keep this relationship intact? This is an awkwardness provided by the perfect commands of God’s Word.
The correct response for a Christian believer is to follow God’s commands and try to understand why God gave us this command in the first place. In this hypothetical situation, imagine if they ended up getting married. All the struggles and difficult choices married couples face would now be compounded by their differing world views. Every difficult situation he would try to solve through the lens of Biblical understanding, while she wouldn’t see the need in following the commands of an ancient book in which she doesn’t believe. Decisions like how to handle their finances, how to raise their kids, and how to celebrate certain holidays have just become increasingly more difficult.
Does the command make more sense now? God is not trying to prevent us FROM living a happy and fulfilled life. God is leading us TOWARDS living a happy and fulfilled life.
2. Think Less of Myself and More of Him
A growing trend in Biblical study is to approach the Bible this way: I read the Bible, I recognize things I don’t agree with, then I reject those things I don’t agree with on the basis that I ultimately know what is best for me. If you ever want to diagnose someone who falls into this category of failed repentance, you will find them starting religious conversations with the personal pronoun, “I.” For instance, “I don’t think a loving God could___(insert rebuttal of God’s character)____” Or, “I don’t understand why God would create something if He didn’t want us to partake in it.” Or, worse yet, “If I feel this way, then how can it be wrong in God’s eyes?”
These ideas blatantly contradict Scripture. Proverbs 14:12 states,
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death (ESV).
Isaiah expresses God’s nature by saying,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord (55:8, ESV).
As we have already discussed, there will definitely be times when we struggle with what God is demanding of us . But, we can NEVER approach the Bible with the attitude of knowing better than the God who created all things! The Bible is incredibly clear in showing us what happens we when rely on our own knowledge and understanding over God’s (i.e. Adam/Eve, Abraham/Sarah/Hagar, David/Bathsheba, Solomon’s fall from God, Peter’s denial of Jesus, etc.). This doesn’t mean we mindlessly approach the Scriptures. It simply means when something has to give between my ideas of who I think God is and what God says about Himself, God wins every single time.