The Bible Is Not a Cheat Sheet
by Ryan Duncan
Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Psalm 119:33-34
I have a confession to make. Back when I was still in school, I attended a chemistry class that I hated. The building was cold and smelled like chemicals. The lessons were slow, with hours of homework assigned afterwards. On top of everything, I had never been good at chemistry, and my frustration usually boiled over faster than our science solutions did.
The class did have one upside though; the way the room was set up allowed me a perfect view of the desks in front of me. So, whenever an exam was held, I cheated. I used a variety of excuses to justify this. Chemistry wasn't my gift, so why should my GPA suffer? The answers were there, they were available, why shouldn't I use them? Who cares how I got the answers so long as they're the right ones?
It was only later that I realized my mistake. Sure, I knew the correct answers, but I didn't understand how the formulas constructed those answers. Without that, my knowledge of chemistry was surface level at best. I was completely and utterly lost.
I think sometimes we like to use the Bible as a cheat sheet. When the world confronts us with a problem, we open our Bibles and yell, "See, the Bible says it's wrong, end of story!" But the Bible was meant to serve as a textbook, not a cheat sheet. If we don't study God's word, we won't understand why Jesus said the things he did. We fail to ask questions, and we breeze through passages without taking time to consider their meaning. We are, quite frankly, bad students.
Try to think of it this way. Before a doctor can heal a person's illness, they must first understand the disease at work. They have to understand where it came from, what affect it has on the patient's body, what types of treatment can fix the problem, why those treatments work, and which of the treatments is best for the patient. If the doctor does not understand this, there is a good chance they'll end up hurting their patient. God calls us to be healers and lights to the world, but without understanding his word first, we become heavy-handed.
We must not be afraid to question our faith. Instead, we must study it with an open mind and faithful heart. That way, when the real exam comes, we pass with flying colors.
Intersecting Faith and Life
What questions do you have about the Bible? Take some time to talk them over with a friend or pastor.
Further Reading: Psalm 119
The Characters of Christmas is a podcast created to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story by getting to know the minor characters that played a part in Jesus’ birth. It is the companion to Dan Darling's book "The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus."