Without Preconceptions

Awesome stencil on a book cart outside of Green Apple Books in San Francisco’s Inner Richmond district.

Prejudices and Preconceptions

So often, we approach the Bible with suitcases full of prejudices and preconceptions. Maybe we don’t think Jews should possess Israel. Perhaps we cringe at the Scriptures that evangelists have shouted. We refuse to accept any Scripture penned by the apostle Paul because we adamantly oppose some verse that he wrote.

Most people approach the Bible with prejudices, whether they are aware of them or not. The same is true with preconceptions. God is love, so everything He does, He does from His heart of love. Furthermore, God extends mercy, so every passage of Scripture must demonstrate God’s mercy, as we define it.

We pack these heavy loads of prejudices and preconceptions into baggage we carry with us on all our journeys. We bring it into small group church meetings, Sunday School, Wednesday Bible studies, and especially into any Biblical discussion with family, friends, or co-workers.

I marvel at the size of some of our pre-judgments (prejudices). Packed into our over-stuffed bags, we add secular things that we value, such as science, psychology, sociology, and family history. Then, somehow, we shoehorn them into our biases of the Word of God.

Reading God’s Word

When we enter the Word of God, we should leave our baggage at the door. God’s Word is meant to be read and studied with reverence, with surrendered souls, with our hearts bowed from humbleness and humility.

When we read the Bible, we need to let God’s Word define its boundaries, such as to whom it applies, any distinct groups, or possessing universal meaning. Always, when we approach the Word of God, it is His Word that must define our doctrines, not the other way around.

Who are we to tell God how He should act and to whom He should extend His Mercy? God’s Word states, “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (Romans 9:18)” Hmmm. That may be counter to who you expect God to be.

As for the love of God, we also should remember, “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psalms 11:5)” And, as for the land of Israel belonging to God, and Israel:

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion;
    he has desired it for his dwelling place:
14 “This is my resting place forever;
    here I will dwell, for I have desired it.

Psalm 132:13-14

40 Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time. 

Deuteronomy 4:40

Be bold, release your baggage

Of course, these are just a few examples. Whatever prejudices or preconceptions we have toward God and His Word, we need to release them. They are burdens that provide no value to our souls.

Instead of being burdened with baggage, we can embrace God’s Word and interpret His Word from other passages of His Word. So let’s not go running after famous teachers that say what people want them to say. Instead, trust God, trust His Word, and whatever is difficult for you, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into the proper understanding of what God has said (John 15:26).

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

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