Yesterday, my husband came up to my office to do our daily lunch devotional. As soon as I saw the chapter we were about to read, Galatians 2, my eyes glazed over.
In my head I was thinking, “Oh great, (sarcastic eye roll) another passage by Paul. Another lunch session spent discussing things I don’t/won’t understand. Hooray!”
I know that makes me sound like a really awful Christian. I accept that. But honestly, I have always struggled with Paul’s writing.
And apparently I’m not alone. Even, good ol’ Thomas Jefferson took issue with Paul. As described in The Faiths of Our Fathers, Thomas Jefferson blamed Paul for muddying the pure springs of Jesus’ thoughts with cloudy Platonism.
“The doctrines that flow from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonism engrafted on them, and for this obvious reason, that nonsense can never be explained.”
The crux of my problem with Paul is that his writing requires so much cultural and historical knowledge that it is literally impossible for an outsider or new Christian to read the text and glean Paul’s entire message.
I become so intimidated and overwhelmed by his writing that when I finished a chapter I can hardly decipher one takeaway point. And then I just feel like a big, dumb Christian.
Does anyone else every feel that way about the Bible?
I understand that the Bible had to be written for all levels of Christians, which inherently means that some of the material was written to stretch our brains and expand our spiritual thinking. But sometimes, it’s so overwhelmingly dense that it seems almost unapproachable.
It took me a long time to get over my embarrassment about my inability to decipher God’s words. I am a smart, educated person. I should be able to read the Bible like any other literary work. But I just couldn’t. My biblical knowledge just wasn’t there yet.
At some point, I finally swallowed my pride and asked my husband aka the self taught Bible scholar to help me. He literally walked me through sentence by sentence explaining Paul’s intent and the historical/cultural implications. As ashamed as I am to admit it, sometimes, I still have to ask him to do this.
So if you are a new Christian struggling with comprehending some of the Bible’s more challenging writers, know that you aren’t alone. I’m still struggling right along with you.
Luckily, God doesn’t judge us for how much we glean from His text but rather how hard we try.
Anyone else feel like a big, dumb Christian sometimes?