The sharpest question for studying the Bible.

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People come to church for a lift. An encouragement. Maybe a challenge. They don’t want trouble.

And those of us who stand behind the lectern agree with them. We’ll give them their lift and maybe their challenge. But we don’t like trouble either.

So we conspire together to avoid certain subjects. Which isn’t healthy

It’s a really useful exercise to stare at a Bible passage and ask what we wish wasn’t there. The bits that we don’t understand. That say the opposite of what they should. The hot bits. The bits we want to cut out.

It’s useful because of what it shows up.

It shows up my temptation. One of the ways God gets on our case is that the Bible becomes repeatedly and emphatically clear about something. Every passage seems to be about giving, or lust, or lying – you’ve had the experience. When God dislikes us like that it’s for our good, so take your medicine and change your life

It shows up my cowardice. The Bible will always be counter-cultural, and god will always want us to speak on those parts of his Word which will get us into trouble..I preached on Genesis 2 the other day, and was slightly anxious when a friend said he,d used that recording at home group, and another suggested we put it on the website. Why? Because that passage gets us into trouble today, and I’m a coward. But to be faithful, I must nerve myself for that fight. So i preach to myself. Be strong, and of good courage. He has overcome the world

It shows up the conversations I’ll have after church. Mention Israel, and three people will make a beeline for you. As a pastor I wince. In advance. But deep down i do know that I can’t keep avoiding the subject forever. It’s in the Bible and on the news. So, rather than duck those conversations, plan for them – aim to lance that boil

God’s word is sharper then a two-edged sword. That means it cuts. It cuts bits out of us. Let it do his work.

Crack open you Bible, and study it (letting it study you) as you ask, “What do I wish wasn’t there?”

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