After I first started following Christ, circa 1972, I devoured the Bible. I loved it; I needed it. The stories about Jesus especially gave me hope. He was so self-assured, kind, smart, unflappable–all the things I didn’t feel I was. The way he treated the underdogs with respect, dignity, and love let me know he would treat me likewise.
Not to mention the miracles and all the other amazing stuff he did and said. Jesus made me feel good. I couldn’t get enough and toted my Bible everywhere I went.
But after a time certain parts bothered me. God scared me spitless. Especially the story of Ananias and Sapphira dying after lying to Peter and God about how much of their money they donated from the sale their property. I mean I was–and still am–far from perfect. What would stop God from just taking me out? If he did, I would probably deserve it.
Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.
TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)
1 Kings 2:1-3:3
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
1 Kings 2:1-3:3: The continuing political intrigue, mistrust, dishonesty, etc. surrounding even David’s throne is a fulfillment of what God said (back near the end of Judges) a monarchy would produce. Human government can do no other. Yet God used David and his lineage to give the world a Savior. God always has a strong hand on events and history, shaping them to his end, even when they look like they are going the opposite direction.
Acts 5:1-42: The Church has never been without problems. Many of us have a tendency to wish the Church today were more like the First Century Church. Little do we realize that it is, both good and bad. The Church is a divine invention with humans mucking up the works. Thus it has always been.
Yet God continues to love us–the Church–and use us–the Church. Gamaliel said it best, “If their [people of the Church] purpose or activity is of human origin it will fail. But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop [it].”
Two thousand years later even many followers of Christ distrust and dislike the Church. But that does not mean her days are numbered but rather that God maybe reforming her again and getting us ready for something new.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
How do we deal with the Bible stories about God we are uncomfortable with, don’t like, or that scare us spitless?
For a time I ignored them and only paid attention to the sections that made me feel good.
In seminary, though, I had to face these ugly pictures of God and humans. It is in seminary also, however, I learned to reason the difficult passages away. One branch of scholarship simply decided that the parts of the Bible they were uncomfortable with were not inspired by God but made up by humans. The trouble with this, as you probably know, is that more of the Bible is harsh than sweet and, in the end, this group began to call the whole book myth.
The opposite branch cried foul to that but developed a whole series of complicated systematic theologies to explain many of these problem passages. Some of these explanations made sense, some did not. I agree with many of them. But they are often convoluted and too complex.
Slowly I’ve come to see that maybe the problem is not with God or the Bible, but with me. My view of God is askew. And coming up with ways to validate my perspective on life and God only puts more distance between God and me. I have begun to believe maybe God holds more in his hand for me (and all of creation) than me feeling good.
If God’s top priority is other than making me feel good or be happy, then maybe it’s okay to be uncomfortable, not like, and be scared spitless by certain parts of the Bible and God. Maybe I’m supposed to feel that way and not know all the answers.
It seems to me God does not view pain, death, and even life the same way we do. Are they to God as splinters and knee scrapes are to parents of young children? We care–but know these pains are not the end of the world.
Somehow I’m beginning to see how God, with his vast view of eternity, knows that seventy to eighty years (more or less) of life containing a mixed bag of pain and joy that ends in death is only a blink of his eternal eye. Beyond that blink lies much more than we can think or imagine.
Should I be scared that God let Ananias and Sapphira die because of their lies? Sure enough. God is not safe. But God is so good that he will not let what happens to us in this broken world to define him or us, because there is so much more in store.
- When have you expected God to make you feel good? Did he?
- Have you learned more about God in difficult times or easy?
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