Tough Questions

We had our small group (Chapter House) at our house tonight. We meet two Tuesdays each month. Because there were five Tuesdays in March, it's been three weeks since we met. The boys have been asking for weeks when the next Chapter House will be. We all like the time together (we evaluated it tonight and all came up with that same sentiment).

After eating, the kids went upstairs and watched a movie while the adults talked and shared. Tonight it was The Prince of Egypt. Near the end of our sharing time one of the kids came down to let me know Anders needed me. She said he was scared (he gets quite sensitive during movies).

I went up; he wasn't scared. He was sad that all the babies had to die during the tenth plague on Egypt. At the end of the movie he asked why God had to kill all those people. I didn't know. And I told him so. I mentioned how He gave Pharaoh many chances to listen to Him, but Pharaoh didn't. Anders said that killing everyone wasn't right. I agreed. I don't know why all the firstborn children had to die.

I don't know why God liked Abel's sacrifice better than Cain's.

I don't know why God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. It seems like a pretty heartless test of faith.

I don't know why Lot's wife got turned into a pillar of salt for looking over her shoulder.

I don't know why all the Canaanites had to be wiped out instead of relocated when the Israelites moved in.

I don't know why all the innocent children had to die because of Herod's fear when Jesus was born.

I don't know why Jesus bothered to invite Judas to follow Him.

There are plenty of things I don't know about the Bible. I can come up with my own guesses, but the Bible doesn't answer everything clearly.

There are also things that I don't like in the Bible.

I don't like that James 5:16 says, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (NIV). I feel that if my prayers (the context of the rest of the verse deals with healing sick people) don't do anything, then I'm not a righteous man (which may be the case, but still...).

I don't like that Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (NIV). There are far too many times when it is me who is living--not Christ--so what does that mean for my faith?

I don't like that 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (NIV). I've got plenty of old me still around. I don't often feel like a new creation. So I question whether or not I'm in Christ.

I don't know how to talk about the Bible's stance on the sinfulness of homosexuality with friends who feel that they were born gay. I don't know how to answer their question of why God would make them that way if it is a sin.

I could go on and on about things in the Bible I don't understand or that I don't like. And that's not a bad thing. We should have unanswered questions. There should be things that make us feel uncomfortable. If we read blindly without questioning anything, then we're not really interacting with a living and active text like the Bible claims it to be.

And still, for all the hard stuff in there, there's a lot of stuff I love. Especially the good news parts. The parts where God says He loves me, forgives me (even if I don't fully understand why at times).

And I think God can live with my questions and with me not liking everything that's in there. Hopefully Anders will be able to live with my not knowing how to answer all those questions that arise as well. Maybe he'll be the one to come up with some good answers.

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