It seems to me that God doesn’t really want us to understand the Bible. If he did, he’d have made it easier to read.
Your sentiment is shared by countless Christians who are miserably going through the motions of reading the scriptures and attending church on about half-a-tank of understanding what the heck it all means. How do I know? Because I was a church kid. And back in those days we barely had anything but a King James Bible and a handful of kind, well-meaning but antiquated Sunday School teachers trying to bring us understanding on a felt board. Most of the time we left those classes more confused or barely enlightened at all. We thought it was supposed to be that way—God wrote the Bible, right? Who can understand God?
Everyone can understand God. He wants us to know him deeply. He draws us to him then asks us to discover him through the Bible, his Word. And it’s no accident that it’s tricky: “God conceals the revelation of his Word in the hiding place of his glory. But the honor of kings is revealed by how they thoroughly search out; the deeper meaning of all that God says” (Proverbs 25:1-3, TPT.) In other words, the Lord hides things for us to find. He enjoys being sought out just like we do. He’s not being cruel or difficult he’s asking us to make an effort. Our problem in this rich, American culture is that life is way too easy. Our push-button lifestyles have lost the ability to work for something. God wants us to intentionally choose him and make that effort so that our knowledge of scripture and our relationship with him has value to us. Have you ever seen a spoiled child throwing their toys around, abusing and breaking them or leaving them out in the yard for the mower to find? It’s because they didn’t have to work for those things. Toys don’t mean much to spoiled children because they have so many.
That scripture is also referencing kings, as in, special people. The Lord provides the explanation for that in the Bible also: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession; that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9, NIV.) Peter, one of Christ’s most powerful disciples and the man who built the institution we call the Church, explains how God feels about us. In truth, Christians are not special people, they’re redeemed people. All of humanity suffers the same; we are all rowing the same boats down the river in terms of good, bad, ugly or indifferent moments and seasons through our lives. But because of what Christ did on the cross, there are now two very distinct types of humans in the world: those who are redeemed and those who are not. The redeemed ones, by the way, only experience that status because they accepted Christ’s gift of salvation and they believe it. Every person is given the same chance, but again...we must take action on our part to receive that gift of redemption. Once redeemed, God calls us “kings.” God is royal (one of Jesus’ titles is “The Great High Priest” in Hebrews chapter four), so we also enjoy his status when we become part of his family.
All that said, my heart aches when certain groups of people condemn translations of the Bible designed to help us to understand it. Certain church doctrines proclaim their use of “the only authorized version of the Bible” or “the original version of the Bible” as some kind of prideful status symbol. That attitude prevents people from knowing God, frankly. Our numerous translations exist for only one purpose: to give us the sound, biblical teachings we need in a language we can read and understand. Are you an academic? You may respond well to the New American Standard Version or the New King James Version. Is reading difficult for you? You’ll enjoy The Message, The Living Bible or The Passion Translation. Are you normal and simply need a good Bible? The New International Version is perfect and most widely consumed. Find yours and enjoy!
Adrienne Greene pastors two Christian churches in southeastern Indiana. Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Please send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030.