On Sundays at 6pm we're continuing our series in 1 Timothy. It's a letter that contains some difficult passages, especially about issues like men and women's roles in church. (You can catch up on the sermon on 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and the question time in our resource library). This week we take a step back from that specific issue and listen in as Lizzie Dorey and Sarah Burkill discuss what to do when we come across difficult truths in the Bible.
Lizzie: Sarah and I have been thinking about what we find helpful when we come across hard truths in the Bible, things we don’t want to accept or don’t want to be true. Something I’ve found helpful is reminding myself of who I am listening to. I’m listening to God speaking, he is the God who created us and who saved us. Remembering how powerful he is and that he has the authority to say these things. He knows so much more than us and he loves us. And remembering who I am—I’m just little Lizzie, made of dust. Having that right perspective of who is speaking and who is listening helps me to see that it's not only right but it’s a good thing to accept what God is saying.
Sarah: I’ve found it helpful to think about my instinctive reaction to something I don’t like and why I don’t like hearing it. So often I think I know best or its truth that clashes with something that I want to hold on to. Asking myself why there’s this clash and why I don’t like this thing—it's really hard to do but its really revealing because it shows where I’m not listening to God and who I’m listening to instead.
Lizzie: I suppose we have to process why we struggle with hard truths that God is saying and yet why it's still worth listening to them. When I do that it helps me to love the Bible more because I’ve had to process why this hard truth is precious and valuable; they’re the words of God himself, and that makes me meditate on how precious the whole Bible is
Sarah: There are often things that I know that I should believe or like or get my life behind but I just don’t feel like I want to listen to or find joy in them. In year-long Bible overview, we had a study in Ezekiel where it talked about God doing things for his sake or his name. I think I could acknowledge that it was a true thing but I didn’t really think it was a great or wonderful thing. And the passage seemed to be saying it was a good thing. It’s taken a couple of months of thinking and praying about it for God to change my mind about it. So maybe part of coming to hard truths is expecting that it will take time and God’s help to change our mind on it because we’re quite slow and quite like our own ideas. It is amazing how God does start to change your mind on something and humbles you, and you do begin to see how wonderful something is. Looking back I can see how God helps us, humbles us and helps us not only accept hard truths but also love them.
Lizzie: I think I’ve found that to be true in the past when I’ve come across a truth that I find hard. The last thing I want to do is turn over carefully in my mind what the Bible is saying about that truth. But actually, if the Bible is holding something out as wonderful and good then it also teaches us and gives us reasons why that truth is wonderful. As we think about those things and ask God to change our understanding to accept it, we also love that truth as he does.
Sarah: I’ve also found other Christians have been really helpful. When I’ve been honest about the things I struggle to believe, I’ve been surprised by how many times other Christians have said that’s something they struggle to believe. We’ve been able to talk together about why it’s a struggle and how we help ourselves understand the lies we’re believing and what truth about God we’re forgetting.