The book we call the Bible is unlike any other piece of literature out there. It’s not just the way it’s written with beautiful poetry, dramatic narrative, and wisdom-packed guidance for life. And it’s not just that it came from God. Or that its message is one that oozes his love and compassion and a no-strings-attached forgiveness.
Do you know what’s also true about the Bible? It’s really challenging! It’s got some stuff in it that’s pretty hard to believe. And, to be completely honest, there are parts of the Bible that I don’t especially enjoy reading or hearing about.
God got so mad at the world that he sent a huge flood to destroy everything and everyone except for eight people in an ark? Yikes! God, who says he’s all-powerful, stood by and allowed people to be hurt, abused, and murdered. And then he had it written down for the rest of the world to read about over and over again in the Bible. What? God let his faithful people be ridiculed and martyred. Why?
And it even gets personal. The Bible says that I was born dead in my sins. It says that, left to myself, I’m nothing but hostile to God and an enemy of all that is good. It says, by my own powers, I can’t do a single thing to come closer to God or make him happy. Not even a little? I have to be honest. I don’t like those parts of the Bible.
But here’s the thing: This book we call the Bible is unlike any other piece of literature out there. It’s not just its content and style. It’s also its power. The Bible has the power to change us. It keeps working on us to transform us more and more into the people God wants us to be, but we’re not quite there yet.
Someone once said we’re like statues being chipped away at until we’re the masterpieces we’ve been chosen to become. That chipping away isn’t fun. We don’t like it. But it has a great affect.
When I read or hear something in the Bible that I don’t like—something that challenges me and makes me wince—I know I need to lean into it and make myself hear more. It does me wonders. My sin is so damnably bad. Ouch! But then look at the cross. It’s Jesus, not me, suffering hell for my sins. I can’t do anything to get myself into heaven. Come on! But then listen to God’s promise: If your hard work isn’t required to get into heaven, your not-so-good work can’t keep you out!
In other words, the Bible keeps working on my heart to show me God’s heart. And the Bible keeps showing me that I can trust God’s heart, even when he tells me things I don’t like—especially when he tells me things I don’t like.
When we read some tough warnings in the Bible about Lord’s Supper, when we hear some unpopular things about gender and sexuality, when we catch some tough Bible talk about hell, let’s not resist it. Let’s embrace the things we don’t like to hear, feel him chipping away at us, and watch how God’s working on us.
Would you pray with me?
Father in heaven, you’re crazy about me. Your Bible says that. When I read other things in the Bible that I don’t like, help me to just keep reading it over and over until you show me how good your Word is, how it all leads to Jesus, and how you’re getting me to heaven. Keep working on me. I can’t wait to see the person you’re shaping me to be! Amen.
Kurt Wetzel has been a full-time pastor for the past two years. He's privileged to serve at Cross of Christ in beautiful Boise, Idaho. He enjoys music of all kinds, hiking, and coffee roasting. Kurt and his wife, Stephanie, have three children.
For more encouragement from Pastor Wetzel and other Time of Grace writers, sign up here to receive email notifications of new blog posts.