There is a wide-spread misconception that belief, faith and especially Christianity are for the weak. For those who fear life and need somebody stronger than them, to keep them safe. I sometimes wonder how do all these myths start, because whenever I ask someone to quote me a verse where it’s written that those who love God will not go through hardship or troubles, no one can quote any verse. That’s because there isn’t any.
But there are plenty of verses that say that those who fear God will be killed; we are compared with sheep sent among wolves; we are told that we will have troubles but we need to be bold, because Christ has conquered the world.
The Bible is not a comfortable book to read, in the terms that humanity defines the word “comfort”. The Bible says that we are sinful; that we are born in a sinful world, and that there is nothing that we can do to please God; it says that whenever we try to do good deeds, in the eyes of God our good deeds are like rags that are filthy with menstrual blood. That’s grouse. The Bible makes a point in presenting how great and unplayable our debt towards God is. The more we sin, the greater the debt, the greater the gap between us and God. The Bible is uncomfortable because it does not change its content according to us; sin will forever be sin, pain will forever be pain, God is forever holly. We are forever sinful.
Actually, I need a lot of courage to open the Bible and read and learn all the things above about me. The Bible is like a perfect mirror, that hides nothing. A person who leaves the house without looking in the mirror is not a brave person. It’s a person who doesn’t care about itself. A person who does look in the mirror, is not a weak person who forgot what humans look like. It is a person who cares how it presents itself.
I need a lot of courage to open my Bible daily because daily, I will learn that there is something that is not quite okay in my life. Just like looking in the mirror daily will show me if I still have sleepy eyes or if my messy bird-nest bun looks acceptable or not.
The part that is comforting about reading the Bible, is that after I have learned what is wrong in my heart, it gives me a solution. It doesn’t leave me in a place of despair and fear. Truth never leaves despair behind; but people are rejecting the truth now because they want to skip the reality that challenges. Comfort comes only after the realization that I am a sinner and that regardless how much I try to fulfill God’s words, I cannot do it. It’s a futile effort to try to please God. In fact, throughout the pages of the Bible, person after person after person, they all try to please God and they all fall in the steps of Adam – they all end up sinning. Because we are born in sin, it is impossible not to sin. The proof that we cannot sin is all around us; the Bible is the proof that there is forgiveness for sinners. None of the people in the Bible were able to satisfy God’s anger; it was Jesus alone who did not sin, and because He allowed His blood to be shed, we have a second chance. The Bible is the fruit of the Sacrifice of Jesus. Without Jesus, the Bible would be a book that explains how great God is and how sinful we are. It would be a book that explains why we cannot stand in the presence of God. Because of the work of Jesus, the Bible is a book that explains why, in spite of our sinful nature and the greatness of our sins, we can stand in the presence of the Holy God.
But you cannot see the road until you open the door. You need courage to open the door, because you don’t know what’s behind it. Likewise, you need courage to open the Bible because the Bible confronts us with the worst of our thoughts – not only with the worst of our deeds. God knows our every thought – and there is comfort in that, but only if you love Him. If you don’t, there’s fear. And none of us love God the first time we open the Bible. We all have to go through the fear of realizing just how bad we are, before we learn that God actually loves giving life to the bad people.
This is why many don’t read the Bible. The Bible shows us how bad we are; it is only wen we believe and understand that we are sinful, that God can make us his friends. There are no shortcuts to that. And sadly, people don’t want to believe they are bad; people want to believe they are good. The truth is, the Truth is not changeable according to what we want to believe or not. The truth is one, and it is absolute.
That is one of the reasons why I read the Bible. I want to know the truth, the truth that is objective to my feelings and to my desires. The truth is a steady and firm ground under my feet; it’s the rock I can build on. Humans do not hold the Truth. The Truth cannot be contained and it is not a possession. We do not hold the Truth. The truth is outside us, and the price for learning the Truth is always great. It requires complete, utter honesty.
Truth tastes bitter in my mouth, but by the time I have swallowed it, it brings peace. Lies taste sweet in my mouth; by the time I have swallowed them, they are poison. But tasting the truth requires courage, because of that bitter disappointment of self that it brings. Nobody wants to admit to their failures. But ironically, nobody can overcome their failures without admitting to them.
The great sweet reward for the courage to bow down and swallow the bitterness of who I really am is that Truth is solid; I can build my life on It. I cannot even imagine a life in which I am not sure how solid the ground under my feet is and I need to build on sand.