Sometimes I think the Bible should come with a warning label. Now, before you go all crazy on me, I’m not arguing that reading the Bible is a bad idea. I just think maybe there should be a warning label involved.
Maybe something like.
Warning: May be hazardous to a self-centered way of life.
Warning: This will probably mess you up and make you into a person you wouldn’t normally be.
How reading the Bible can be hazardous
Really, at least in my mind, there are two specific dangers to reading the Bible. One of them is a real danger and the other is a comfort danger.
The real danger
It is extremely dangerous to read the Bible but refuse to allow God to transform you. To read about righteousness, justice, mercy, and generosity, yet choose to remain unrighteous, unjust, unmerciful, and stingy.
The danger is really about two things.
- A missed transformation
- A hardened heart
Through the Holy Spirit, the Bible is inherently transformational. God’s word is intended to conform us to the image of Christ. But if we refuse to allow it to transform us, we miss out on that transformation and the deepened relationship with God that comes through the transformation.
The greater danger, though, is having a heart that is hard towards God. It’s just not possible to continue ignoring God without hardening your heart in some way.
But just as there are dangers in refusing the transforming power of the Bible, there are dangers in embracing it. They are desirable dangers, to be sure. But they are dangers
The desirable dangers
As we read the Bible and allow it to permeate our lives, it will transform us in deeply desirable but sometimes exquisitely uncomfortable ways. It will point out areas where we have missed God’s heart. It will open our eyes and our hearts to the struggles of others. It will call us to service and humility instead of power and pride.
- It might mess you up.
- It might change your heart.
- It might call you out of your comfort zone.
- It might conform you to the image of Christ.
In truth, all of those things are desirable. But they are not always comfortable. In fact, I dare say that they are seldom comfortable – at least in the moment.
This happens to me too
Before you think that I just float through life on a magic carpet of ease and joy like some minor deity from mythology, I have to tell you that reading the Bible does this to me too. Sometimes I try to fight God’s word and harden my heart. Other times I’m open to what he’s saying and then he really messes me up.
Many times I hear his word and don’t know what to do with it except bring it back to him, ask him for guidance, and wait. Wait for guidance. Wait for provision. Wait for his timing. Wait for him to do the deep, transformational work in my heart.
Here’s an excerpt from one of my recent journal entries.
For some reason I can’t get the image of babies and small children scavenging food in war-torn areas of the world. When I see my kids playing I can’t help but think that if Katherine and I died, I would want somebody to take care of them.
As best I can, I trust God to do that. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder if we are part of his plan to help care for somebody else’s abandoned or orphaned child. Or if there’s some way he wants us to support another person in doing the same.
It is just really heavy on my heart these last couple days. Lord, what would you have me do with this?
Let’s bring it down to the ground level
So, here’s the question: Are there places where you’re refusing to let the Bible conform you to God’s will?
If so, what are you going to do about it today?