What to Do When You Don’t Understand the Bible

Prayerful meditation can often help you start to find meaning in even the most confusing Bible verses.

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Reading the Bible

Ever trip over a passage in the Bible, scratching your head? Sometimes I’ll skip a verse rather than deal with it. Then sometimes a bit of prayerful meditation will reveal more than I expected. Take this verse:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

Why would Jesus ask us to hate anybody? After all, his message is one of love. And doesn’t one of the 10 commandments say to honor your father and mother?

He seems to be talking about disciplehood, leaving behind all the baggage you want to bring with you. Indeed that can mean letting go of old patterns you’ve accumulated.

I love my own children dearly, desperately, but loving them means giving up all my “I’m sure I know better” ideas. The dreams they have are bigger than any I could ever devise.

I was fortunate to be raised in a wonderful, warm, loving home. But to become my own person I had to leave that all behind. In fact, I picked a college (or did God pick it for me?) that was thousands of miles from home. I still live thousands of miles away.

We each can load up the idea of “family” with so many expectations that it can lose all resemblance to anything that Jesus said. Here Jesus gives us a chance to shake off all that stuff.

Jesus often shocked his followers. His words still have that power. Do I fully understand this verse? No, not at all. But I believe it’s there to shake me out of my complacency. To help me love more and hate less. By loving the right things.

Any verses that trip you up? 

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