The Bible is a rich, diverse, inspired library of 60+ books, written over the span of 2,000 years, containing a lifetime’s worth of spiritual insights and insightful narratives.
While the core gospel message is refreshingly simple, I’m starting to appreciate how nuanced many other scriptural topics are. They’re not simple or straightforward.
For instance, check out this statement from Jesus in John 15:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world…therefore the world hates you.John 15:18-19
So…we should always expect the world to hate us?
Seems like that’s what Jesus said there.
Similarly, James says:
Friendship with the world is enmity with God. Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.James 4:4
Clearly, popularity and following God
Not so fast.
What about these verses?
Day by day…[the early Christians were] praising God and having favor with all the people.Acts 2:46-47
Many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles…the people held them in high esteem.Acts 5:12-13
[Jesus] increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.Luke 2:52
So…apparently it’s not so simple.
A more balanced view might look something like this:
We shouldn’t make worldly popularity our ultimate aim. But we shouldn’t make unpopularity our ultimate goal either. Our ultimate aspiration should be to follow Christ. Sometimes, people won’t appreciate that. Other times, they will.
The main point: when it comes to spiritual topics (and, yeah, life in general), there’s often more to a topic than what first meets the eye. Quick, simple answers are nice, but reality is often more complex than we realize.
So, ask yourself:
What positions are you oversimplifying?
Which verses do you latch onto, when there might be other verses that balance them out or shed a different light on the topic?
Do you recognize the nuances of the Christian life and the complexity of spiritual questions?
The world’s a complicated place.
Let’s walk in humility, recognizing that some of our views may be premature, incomplete, or straight out wrong.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.Proverbs 3:5
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”1 Peter 5:5
All of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.1 Peter 3:8