Has anything you read in the Bible seemed confusing to you? It has to me, to the point that I began to doubt how to believe it at all. But I wanted it to be true, and I wanted to believe it. It took me many years to understand God’s message in Jesus Christ is “It Is Finished” and truly true.
I remember the first time I thought these thoughts. I was about 8 or 9 years old. I had the idea that knowing and following God was the most important thing in the world, in life. But if God is love, why is there so much killing in the Bible? Killing cannot be love.
When I was 11, I read Jesus’ words in Matthew, “Be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect” and then a bit later, Jesus says, “If you want to be perfect, sell what you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then follow me!” I asked my parents about that and only heard, “well, we give what we can. God doesn’t mean to give everything.” I thought to myself, “how can this be? If God says give it all, shouldn’t we give it all? But then what would we live on?”
When I was 13, I memorized I Corinthians 13. I understood it to mean how I was supposed to love others. But it seemed contradictory to me that many passages in both Testaments ordered us to shun sinners, to have nothing to do with sinners, to keep sinners out of church and out of our life. Are we supposed to love only “good” people?
By the time I was 18, I knew I was not capable of being good enough, and I began to see that no one else was always good, either. I still tried to be “a good Christian”, but in my heart I had a lot of confusion.
It took me many years to understand God’s message in Jesus Christ is “It Is Finished” and truly true. It took many years for me to learn that the Bible is not to be taken absolutely literally, line by line, but that it is ongoing dialogue with the God and God’s people. Once I took a red pencil and colored all of Jesus’ words in the New Testament, then read just those words. I discovered that Jesus spoke differently to different people in different situations, and in every situation Jesus called people to love God by loving others.
I am so grateful for the Lutheran understanding of the Holy Bible. Lutherans believe that people meet God in Scripture, where God’s heart, mind, relationship to — and intention for — humankind are revealed. Through an ongoing dialogue with the God revealed in the Bible, people in every age are called to a living faith. The Bible is the cradle in which we find Jesus Christ, the living Word and center of our faith.
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