Wrestling with the Text

Each day my 45 minute or more commute to work has become my personal time with God. Listening to God’s word on a podcast, sermon on the radio, or praising His holy name while singing worship music at the top of my lungs raising one hand at a time in worship. Other times, I sit in silence waiting and listening to the Holy Spirit speak into my life, converse with God while imagining Jesus sitting in the passenger seat, or pray. In these moments I am prompted to ask questions. You will often hear me refer to the Bible as a question book versus an answer book. In the book of Genesis (Genesis 32) it speaks of Jacob wrestling with God and as I dive into a deeper study of scriptures I am learning we also wrestle with God, mostly with the Biblical text. I have been wrestling with the answers to several scenarios I have played out in my mind as I learn contentment with the questioning. 

Like many of us believers I strive to do my best to live out the commandments of God through a relationship with Jesus Christ righteousness in me and the prompting of the Holy Spirit and still fall short. Knowing that I fall short will I then choose the lesser of two evils in certain situations or is there a way I can respond that would not cause me to dishonor God’s commandments? If so,  in what context?

Q. If two or more people show up to my door preaching a different doctrine, will I be hospitable?

A. This particular question I have asked, examined, and have had the opportunity to live it out. I simply treated people at my door as I would have preferred someone treat me. When the individuals or groups asked if they could share their information, I answered if they would allow me to do the same, (generally I would do this when there were at least two at home). Sadly, their answer is generally no, and they walk away.  

Q. If I were in a holocaust type situation and the enemy comes knocking at my door asking if I am hiding the sect of people they are seeking out and I am, how will I respond? My immediate response is to lie and say no. However, as I search the scriptures Jesus usually responds with hospitality, a teaching, or questions. I am prepared to do that? How are you hospitable to the inhospitable? Do I really believe the enemy is going to listen to a teaching when they have been trained to kill the enemy? Answering their question with a question such as, who would tell you such a thing, is that still going to get me killed? Am I willing to lay down my life for people – which I think you are saying you are if you riski hiding such individuals? 

Q. If someone threatens my life telling me to deny Jesus Christ, will I? The Apostle Peter denies Jesus three times, but after he repents he is on fire for Jesus and even heals the sick. Then there’s Stephen who endured stoning in Acts 7:54 – 8:1 after gazing into heaven and seeing the glory of God, which then begs the question will I feel the stones being thrown? 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 says, “O’ death, where is your sting? 

Scripture references from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible are below for your convenience.

I continue to wrestle with Biblical text daily as these questions remain unanswered. Although unanswered I think wrestling with the text and asking questions is important in preparation for the possibility of such events taking place.  

Peter Denies Jesus

Matthew 26:69-75

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

The Stoning of Stephen

Acts 7:54-60

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together[a] at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

“O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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