Context

I've been pondering how people can take opposing views on matters the Bible speaks about. Things I've come to see in the last few years suddenly come together and things are relatively clear.

Who wrote the Bible? Jews (except for Luke). Do I think like a Jew? Some may think that's a silly question, but the Bible we know has been translated by people with a Greek mindset. People who, without perceiving it, create an artificial gap between the material and spiritual. Even the concept of God being "up there" is Platonic rather than Biblical.

That's one little difficulty in understanding the Bible. Another is taking things out of context - exacerbated by changing language. I read a relatively concise summary of what Christians believe - and it presents a big picture. I like that - always keep an eye on the big picture. This article is better than my own attempt at the big picture.

When people claim to understand God, their God is too small. Having said that God wants us to know Him, even though we can only do that imperfectly. We are to be like Him - and He is love.

Start with Jesus during his time on earth. Yes, he got angry - but not for himself. When he saw people who were supposed leaders putting themselves first and making it difficult for others to get to his Father he got stirred up. In one case this led to physical action. Apart from those people, he never once condemned or even spoke roughly to anyone. He was filled with compassion.

Most of us know what the Bible teaches about adultery. Yet when a lady caught in adultery was brought before him (she was being taken to be stoned), what did he do? He wrote on the ground (we don't know what) and then said whoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone. And beginning with the oldest, they all went away. When he looked up, she was alone. Just as no-one condemned her, so too he did not condemn her, but sent her on her way, with the words to stop living as she had been.

Moving past his time, we find the same message (as in the Old Testament) of living lives pleasing to our God. There are passages where the fate of those who hold on to their faults is condemned. Apart from the media focussing on particular aspects because it suits their need, the bigger problem is people ignore who these words are spoken to. They were written to God's people - to those who claimed to have given their lives to him.

People who don't know God can't really be criticised for distorting things He has said. People who have just come to know Him also can be excused. When Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos, they explained the way of God more accurately. For all of us, it takes time (the rest of our lives) to learn things. Sometimes we learn through others. Sometimes we learn directly from God. At others, it just becomes part of us over time.

If there is one thing that is true for all it's that God wants us to grow - to become more mature. As we get closer to Him, the dross that holds us back slowly loses its hold. When this is sudden, it's great. I've heard of many addictions being overcome instantly (while others take time). But getting rid of one small problem (it isn't small at the time) is just a small step on a road to continuous improvement.

Paul travelled this road. The Bible isn't arranged chronologically, so this isn't obvious, but he described himself early on as the least of the Apostles. What a humble guy. Yet as an old man, he described himself as the chief of sinners.

 

Last Modified

Last modified: 28 November 2020.