Section 2: The Bible
Week 2: The Bible Is Clear
Day `3: Understanding the Bible Requires the Right Attitude
God wants us to understand the Bible. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. The fact is, there are a number of passages that are difficult and require a lot of work to interpret properly. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. Today we want to look at an even bigger obstacle—our attitudes.
Willingness to Have Our Views Challenged
A lot of us hate change. Some of us especially hate changing our minds. We’d endure almost anything rather than change our views on a subject. That can be a big problem when it comes to reading the Bible because the Bible has a way of challenging the way we look at the world. So if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves actively resisting what the Bible has to say—trying to twist it to conform to our own views rather than the other way around.
Take Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. When Peter asks him how many times we ought to forgive someone, Jesus says we should forgive them seventy times seven (Matt. 18:21-22). Seventy times seven is a figurative way of saying, “As many times as it takes.”
That feels wrong to many of us. Forgive them once? Sure. But if that person hurts you again? You’d be stupid to forgive them again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
What are we going to do with Jesus’ statement to Peter? The temptation is to think, “He couldn’t have meant what he said, could he? Of course not.” So we start to make an adjustment here and a qualification there, until Jesus’ teaching starts to look more like our own view on forgiveness.
That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, though. The Bible is supposed to shape us, not the other way around. That’s why humility is so important. We need to be willing to set our views aside and let the Bible take the lead. If we don’t, we’ll inevitably start trying to substitute our thoughts for God’s thoughts.
Willingness to Give Up What We Cherish
We can find ourselves distorting the Bible for other reasons as well. As you can probably tell by now, I love TV. I’d be willing to go to extremes to keep from having to give it up. So imagine I read 1 Corinthians one day and I get to the passage where Paul says the Church is a body and, as believers, we’re all connected to one another. Suppose the Holy Spirit reminds me that a new small group at our church just started meeting on Monday nights and that might be a good way for me to get to know people better. But that’s when Big Bang Theory is on. What might I do?
I might start to ask whether Paul had small groups in mind. He certainly doesn’t mention small groups specifically. In fact, a little later, Paul says we’re all gifted differently. Small groups aren’t my thing. I’m just gifted differently…right? Great. Maybe that means I don’t have to give up Big Bang Theory after all. If somebody needs some help downloading a sermon from the website, I promise I’ll help them. That’s more my thing.
We’re great at rationalizing, especially when it comes to things we really want. So much so, that properly understanding the Bible and applying what it says can easily take a backseat. That’s why whenever we pick up the Bible, we need to be willing to give up the things we cherish, because giving them up might be just the thing God is calling us to do.
The bottom line is this: We don’t get to challenge or change what the Bible says. It gets to challenge and change us.
Has God asked you to change your thinking in some way or to do something during this study that you’re not excited about? Is that preventing you from making the change?
Ask God to work in your heart to help you make that change.