Countercultural

Look Deeper, See Clearer, Run Harder

Read the Hard Parts of the Bible, Too

It’s funny how easy it is to forget the vegetables.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

I don’t hate vegetables; I’m just exceptional at forgetting them. More often than not, my wife and I sit down for dinner and then comment, “We really should have prepared a few vegetables with this.”

Why do we tend to forget vegetables? Perhaps because, of all the things we eat, vegetables are what we enjoy least.

I can honestly say I’ve had a hard time with Bible reading the last few weeks. I got stuck in Ezekiel, which felt like one more long book in the Bible about judgment and Israel’s corruption.

Not every part of the Bible is easy to understand. The people of Israel and Judah are being thrown into exile for their idolatry and pride, and I’m sitting at my desk in Minnesota thinking, “Why do I need to read this?”

Reading the Parts of the Bible we Don’t Enjoy

A while ago I wrote about how to read awkward Bible stories. However, when it comes to vegetables, we know we need them, we’re just hesitant to dish them up.

I believe part of the Bible’s design is to contain portions we don’t like reading. I’ve never met anyone who (at least at first) enjoys reading the prophetic warnings of the Bible.

And yet, 2 Timothy 3:16 says the Bible is good for “teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.” In practice, I usually stop after “teaching.”

Let’s be honest: How many of us open our Bibles at any given time, looking to be reproved or corrected? Most if not all of the time, we’re looking to be encouraged. It’s like we have a plate filled with everything we need for a healthy life and we’re only eating the pasta.

The only people who read their Bible for the purpose of being reproved or corrected are those who are

  • humble enough to admit their weakness,
  • faithful enough to seek strength in God, and
  • courageous enough to move toward a place of greater vulnerability.

I believe part of the Bible’s design is to contain portions we don’t like reading.

By only paying attention to the parts of the Bible we want to hear, we might be overlooking exactly what God wants to speak into our lives through His Word. Plenty of Scripture doesn’t taste good, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need it.

Finding a Place for Scriptural Reproof

I’m talking about personal Bible reading here, but this principle also applies on Sunday morning. I wish I heard more pastors reprove and correct in their teaching—not because I enjoy it, but because I know I need it.

We need to get over the mental hump of associating words like “reproof” and “correction” with meanness. These words were never meant to be motivated by hate but by love. If we truly desire for ourselves and others to spiritually thrive, then we will speak words of loving rebuke and correction, not out of personal superiority but out of Scriptural authority.

Honestly, ask yourself: Do you have a place in your spirituality for loving rebuke?

The Word of God is a fire. We excel at gathering and worshipping around the fire, but perhaps we’ve forgotten the fire is also meant to refine us.

We need Scripture we enjoy and Scripture we don’t in order to have a healthy spiritual diet. Sometimes the passages hardest to digest are the passages we need most. By approaching with humility to listen, faithfulness to examine ourselves, and courage to speak, we can turn the hard parts of the Bible into essential nutrients for our souls.

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