“I think we need to do a Bible boot camp for you.”
When my friend suggested this, I said no. Then I said maybe.
This was last spring. At the time, I was overwhelmed with Christian stuff. Monday to Friday I worked for a Christian company. Sunday morning I went to church. Wednesday night I attended women’s Bible study. Everywhere in between, I hung out with Christians.
At the time, the last thing I needed was another Christian extracurricular a.k.a. Bible boot camp.
Not to mention, I had already read the Bible. Back in August 2016, I started Nicky and Pippa Gumbel’s Bible in One Year app. And yes, in August 2017, I finished it.
However, I’ll tell you this: on the last day, I looked up from my phone and realized I still felt confused about the Bible.
So yes, I decided to start a Bible boot camp with my friend. Now eight months later as we finish the Bible, I reflect on 3 things* I’ve learned:
1. God can use our sin to accomplish His purpose.
The Bible is full of examples of this. Maybe the best one is Jesus’s death on the cross. His crucifixion was “the most heinous act of evil and injustice ever perpetuated on the earth.”** And still, God used it for good. He used it to wash away the sins of His people.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good. Rom. 8:28 ESV.
It’s never God’s will for us to disobey Him. But even when we do, God can use our sin and its consequences to bring about good.
2. God is after the heart behind obedience.
I used to think that as long as I’m not sinning, then I’m being a good Christian. But this SO misses the point of the Christian life.
From reading the Bible, I’ve learned how obedience needs to be motivated by a love for God. Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching” (John 14:23). When we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37), we are driven to be obedient.
We strive to, not just avoid sin, but to also glorify God as well as we can.
3. A lot of weird things happen in the Bible.
A talking donkey doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Spooky incidents fit for an episode of Supernatural happen. Things that make me reread a verse over and over again happen.
Wait, did God just send a tormenting spirit into Saul??
Sometimes there is a wealth of explanations for these weird things. Other times, there’s not.
For me, working through the Bible involved letting go of trying to understand everything. Especially God’s ways. As my old pastor in Chicago would say:
“As a Christian, you need to be comfortable in sometimes saying, ‘I don’t know.'”
Let it be known: none of these three things are things I would disagree with prior to reading the Bible. But engaging with God’s Word helped me internalize them.
It helped me internalize a lot of biblical principles.
I still have questions. I still struggle to apply these principles to my day-to-day life.
But in the midst of struggle, I believe in the value of staying rooted in the Bible. I believe in not leaning on my own understanding (Prov. 3:5) but instead, leaning on God’s words.
*Of course there are more than just 3 things. But you’ll have to grab a coffee with me to hear about it 😉
**Kevin DeYoung. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will. Moody Publishers: 2009.