I used to love debating - a good fight with someone about a topic, trying to “out-clever” the other person. This is the sport for people who do not have the body or talent for athletic competition. (My resume and photos of me at any point in time demonstrate I am physically built for debating). It took me a long time to realize that these debates were not a vigorous discussion for the hope of a shared understanding. It was just entrenched combat with no desire for resolution. There would be no changing of minds regardless of how much discussion occurred. BTW - This seems eerily similar to our current national political dialogue, but I digress.
A friend of mine and I were talking about the challenges I sometimes have when I read the Bible. When I find passages that I want someone to argue/debate/analyze/explain and I kick into auditor mode. This is what he said:
"Reading scripture with confidence reveals God’s love for you. If we recognize that the Bible is truth not fact, then we can absorb it. We should not be having the debate while we are reading the Bible. That is for bible study. You will either read it and believe it in faith, or you will be the first person in history to have figured it out. This is the issue of faith.” - Eric P.
I really like all of that….but….that requires me to suspend my disbelief. As the father of a little boy said to Jesus “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
There are two parts of Eric's idea -
First part, read with confidence so that I can feel and know God’s love for me.
Second part, study and debate in bible study.
Separating these two parts is freeing for me when I read the Bible.
Scriptural debates that I have watched and participated in are usually higher road conversations. The focus IS on a better understanding and interpretation of what God has laid out in scripture. As an aside, just keep quiet and listen if you get someone in on the debate who is over 75. These people are usually wise. That means ask and listen. You can challenge but be open to learning rather than arguing. If this sounds like the voice of personal experience…well, you got me. On top of the wisdom, they can quote chapter and verse. I can’t quote phrases without my Bible app on my phone.
Bible study is less often today in class rooms but rather it is in small groups focused on studying the word, with dessert and coffee served afterwards. People are people. If you want teenagers to show up, promise pizza. If you want people my age or near to it, promise dessert and coffee.
As a writer, one of the better pieces of advice I have received is to never write and edit at the same time. Write first without editing. Edit later without writing new content. It helped free me from second guessing and over thinking in the moment of creating. Editing helps to make my creative work better and I then get better for the next time I write.
Read the Bible with confidence and faith and it will reveal His love for you. In case you are curious, God wants us to understand more about him. (Psalm 143)
For Jesus Christ the Son of God does not waver between Yes and No. (2 Corinthians 1:19)
So, I analyze, I argue, I shake my head and state my disagreement. Am I going to burn for this? I do not believe so. I trust God a lot more than that.
"The Lord is crazy about me not because of who I am, but because of who he is.” Philip Yancey