A few days ago I read Matthew’s version of the Temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4: 1-11). In it, Satan attacks Jesus with scripture from the Psalms. I’ve always known that Satan used scripture to tempt Jesus, but I’ve never thought before about Satan tempting me in the same way.
Lately, I’ve been on a path of rethinking my beliefs about Christianity. This does not mean I am becoming an atheist or an agnostic or a bad Christian. It just means that I’m really trying to understand some of the things the church does and believes. Actually, I am asking these questions now because I feel secure enough in my faith to do so. And thanks to Rachel Held Evan’s Evolving in Monkey Town, I am ready to be open about my questions and my thoughts, my process of rediscovering my faith.
Let’s look at it this way: my knowledge of God so far in life can best be described as a large knot; a big ball of tradition, scripture, my experiences, and books I’ve read. In asking some of the questions I’m asking, I feel as if I found the magic string to pull, undoing the entire knot. Now all I have are pieces of string, unconnected, forming no discernible shape. My end goal is to create a shape of God that I can understand. Perhaps I’ll recreate the knot or perhaps it will resemble something more like a knitted scarf. The shape is not so important as how I arrive at it.
Now back to scripture as temptation. In putting back together this shape of God, I will need to read a lot of scripture. I’m already starting to do so and am reading it in a new way, trying on different lenses in which to filter my interpretations.
Basically, I need guidance, guidance from God and from others who have been through this journey. Reading scripture for what I want to be true and reading scripture for what actually is true is a dangerous tightrope to walk. So here is my prayer:
Lord, help me to read for truth, not because I want to find a certain outcome. Help me to be like the Bereans and test new ideas with your Word. Help me to read your word without all my baggage. Help me to read it as if it were the first time, even more than that — as if I were reading it in another language, one where I would need to keep a dictionary close. Lord, help these questions of mine and my reading of scripture, to not only piece back a shape of you, but to enhance my spiritual walk. Help me to continue acts of kindness, learning how to be like you. Remind me that there is more to scripture than understanding — there is action. Lord, open my eyes to who you truly are and not all the meanings we have patched onto you over time. Lord, help me to see you and only you.