Anyone who has ever tried to learn a second language knows that it’s not always easy. There are new sounds, new words, new symbols, and new ways to move your mouth. What do you do with those two little dots over some letters, or that squiggly line over others? What are you supposed to do with your lips or your tongue? How exactly do you roll an r?
I don’t even know how many times I have tried to learn Spanish. I’ve started and stopped too many times to count. I start out excited, but eventually I get frustrated with all the strange sounds and words and letters.
And sometimes we do the same with God’s Word. Because there is a lot in there we are not used to hearing. There are strange new words like “propitiation” and “righteousness”. But, the words aren’t the worst of it. Those we can learn. It’s the stories and the people that are the hardest to figure out! Why can’t anyone seem to get it together? Why do even the “good” people like David (who the Bible describes as a “man after God’s own heart”) have big problems with really bad sins?
But, maybe that’s not even the worst of it. The hardest parts to grapple with are the ones that challenge us. The parts that deny us of our favorite forays into sin. The parts that condemn the things we like to do or think about the most. The parts that crush our worldly aspirations, dreams, and hopes.
Sometimes, we would like to have a Bible full of nice people and nice, godly advice. We would like to read about good people who overcome their obstacles and reach their goals. Instead, we read about Stephen. A good man, who followed God, and in return was stoned. We want to hear something that will strengthen us, encourage us, and lift us up. But, instead we are told that we need to deny ourselves and pick up our crosses.
And, sometimes, with all of this strange talk, we are tempted to lay aside God’s Word. It’s too much, too different, too “out there”, or just too much.
But, you see, God’s Word does not exist to tell us what we WANT to hear, but what we need to hear. God’s Word tells us things we simply do not hear anywhere else. First, it speaks to us with complete and utter honesty. Brutal honesty. It doesn’t tell us we are smart enough, good enough, and pretty enough for God. It doesn’t tell us that we are on the right track and just need a helping hand. No, it tells us that we are much worse off than we ever imagined. That we are all broken and sinful: David, Noah, Moses, Paul, and ME.
And that’s when God’s Word swoops in to tell us something else we don’t hear anywhere else: Jesus. God’s Word is constantly, continually pointing us to Him. To His unconditional love that we cannot earn. To His amazing grace which washes us clean. To His abundant riches, the inheritance that is ours for free. To His cross which frees us, and His tomb which brings us new life. This type of totally free grace doesn’t always make sense to a world that operates on the theory that you should get what you deserve, but it is the message of Scripture from start to finish. It’s all about Jesus.
So, keep on listening. Keep on reading, singing, and absorbing God’s Word. It might sound strange. It might not always make sense. But, what a beautiful Word it is!