Give ear, O God, and hear...We do not make requests of you because of our righteousness but because of your great mercy. Daniel 9:18
My small group has been reading Daniel this last month. It’s funny- I guess I never thought too much about Daniel. Basically the typical, smooth surface read boils down to “the moral of the story is trust God no matter what, even in the face of difficulty,” right?
But as my group tackled the book, we ended up doing a lot of research. It turns out Daniel is a historical hotbed of controversy. It’s written in two different languages, which some people think indicates it was written at two VERY distant times (like, several hundred years apart). And then we started researching the prophecies in the book- and oh boy- that’s a whole other bucket o’ worms. Basically my group ended up feeling unsettled. We ended up talking (admittedly, with SLIGHTLY flared tempers since the very foundations of What We Think were being rocked) about the difference between “the Inspired Word of God” and “the Inerrant Word of God” and then researching different definitions/applications of the word “inerrant” and then also trying to figure out why the word “inerrant” was applied to the Bible in the first place. The Bible never really makes such a claim for itself. Luke and Matthew and Paul, for instance, were writing letters and documents to record their experiences and guide church growth, but had no clue that their words would eventually be labeled “inerrant scripture.”
Basically, it’s hard.
We went from cut ‘n’ dry daniel in a lion’s den to our own personal den of Why Do We Wield The Bible The Way We Do and How Does my Approach to the Scripture Impact my Faith.
At one point in the evening, a somewhat disgruntled someone shoved his or her chair back and said, I HATE this. I HATE that I can’t make a clear-cut defense of every word in the Bible. Basically, unless someone has a scales off the eyes experience with God, there’s NO convincing anyone to be a Christian by proving the unmuddled voracity of the Bible.
That statement sat with me. And you know what, I think I absolutely agree. It all boils down to having an experience with God. When the Bible is confusing- when I read about thousands being killed off in the Old Testament, for instance- all I can fall back on is the knowledge that I’ve had an undeniable experience with a kind and intimate and merciful God and I know that I want to know Him more. And I know that the people whose lives are recorded in the Bible have all had some sort of REAL experience with a Holy and Good God and God uses their lives to teach and rebuke and correct and train us in righteous living.
When it all boils down, though, I will never be able to convince others- or myself- based on my RIGHTNESS. The only convincing anything is God’s mercy present in my life. In the lives of others.
Holy Spirit, I offer you all my confusing questions and doubts and desires to be right. More than anything, I just want to experience more of you in my life. Be near to me, merciful God