I love the Bible – except when I don’t.
I love, “for God so loved the world that he sent His only son.” However, verses about determination, commitment and suffering – like, “but this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (2 Corinthians 1:9) – well, those not so much.
It’s like I have “selective hearing” when it comes to the Bible. I hear (as in, read with understanding) the things that benefit or encourage me and are acceptably challenging; but I don’t hear things that are uncomfortable or don’t make sense to me. Sometimes, I even go as far as to read God’s mind – no matter what He has already said about a matter in the Bible. And apparently I am not alone in my “selective hearing” of the scripture.
Two people sat in front of me, believers in Jesus, married for many years but now on the brink of divorce. Of course, every element of the discussion was complex and interwoven with years of hurt, accusation and unforgiveness. But it was one particular statement that caught my attention. The wife recounted finding a journal from her dating days in which she had recorded sensing God’s direction not to marry the man sitting next to her. She looked at me and said, “This was affirmation that divorcing him is okay because God never wanted us to be married.”
Here’s what I heard in that moment: “When I disobey God and the consequences are uncomfortable or inconvenient, He lets me off the hook even if it violates His own principles.”
This couple has a teenage daughter. It would be interesting to get this woman’s perspective and hear her counsel should her daughter, who is a Jesus follower, were to get pregnant out of wedlock. Would she tell her that God forgives her and doesn’t want her life to get complicated so He would approve aborting the child? Or years later, when the child is in the “terrible twos” and driving the young mother crazy, that just abandoning the child at the mall is an option? Or when it is obvious that this child is an obstacle to her dreams of college and living out “her full potential” that it would be acceptable to kill the child?
I know this is probably an overly simplistic illustration; but I would hope that the newly pregnant daughter would be told that the baby within her is a gift from God even though conceived in a sinful, disobedient circumstance; that the Lord has forgiven her and promises to walk with her so that she does not complicate the situation with additional bad choices; and that trusting God with the years ahead as a young mother is extraordinary discipleship and ministry.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Hmmm. That’s worth thinking about this week.