The Bible Doesn't Have all the Answers

We don't have to have all the answers; we just have to trust the one who does.

Many Christians believe that there is nothing the Bible can't answer. It's not only God's inspired word, it's his final word on every topic. Which means that there's a verse for every single situation we encounter. If you're worried, read Matthew 6. If you're tempted, read 1 Corinthians 10. If you feel defeated, read Romans 8. Pretty soon, you're speaking Scripture so fluently that you're answering all of your friends' questions like you're studying for an exam:
Hey, Alex? I'm having a hard time with God right now--I'm really angry at him.
I'm sorry to hear that, but remember, Isaiah 55:8 says that God's ways are not our ways...
You may have gotten an A on that self-proctored test, but you just failed at friendship. I know this because that used to be me.

Ask any of my friends and I'm sure they could recall at least one or two sermons I've preached at them. There's one night I remember in particular when my best friend was sharing some decisions he was making that made me genuinely worried for him. So I did what any good Christian would do: I gave him the right answers, chapter and verse. Imagine my surprise that not really listening to him made him angry at me. But his point was well taken because, to this day, I can't remember what he told me. I only remember failing him as a friend.

Some might say, quite ironically, that God's word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11), so there's never a situation where Scripture shouldn't be quoted. And to that I say, just because you can make a verse fit a situation, that doesn't mean it belongs there.

When we say that the Bible has an answer for everything, we're really saying that we can make the Bible answer everything. That's not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it's called wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to see how biblical truth applies to everyday life. But like anything, wisdom is a skill that takes practice. And sometimes, we're tempted to create connections between Scripture and contemporary life that don't exist.

We do this because the Bible is silent on an awful lot of things. It doesn't talk about movies and strong language, the internet and pornography, or even psychology and PTSD. The Bible was written in its own time to its own people of that time, so instead, it talks about idol meat and head coverings (#FirstCenturyProblems). This doesn't mean that the Bible has nothing to say to us today or that those passages are irrelevant. It just means that applying biblical truth isn't as simple as quoting verses.

Quoting the Bible for every situation is like answering an essay question on an exam the way you would a multiple choice question. Don't get me wrong, Bible memory has its place just like regurgitated facts do in school and learning. But there's a big difference between repeating the words and explaining them with your own. We'd do well to remember that the latter--the exercise of God's image--is what separates us from parrots.

So what does the Bible say about movies and what you should and should not watch? The correct answer is nothing. The Bible doesn't talk about movies because movies didn't exist when it was written. Yes, there are principles that can guide your viewing choices, but you won't find any answers on the amount of sex, violence, or strong language that's appropriate to watch. Those answers you're expected to find with wisdom.

I don't say that as though it's easy. Wisdom is scary because it may afford others different answers that could challenge the validity of our own. But if we were honest, we'd have to admit that we want the Bible to have all the answers because then it has all the answers for everyone. It's easier to dismiss others as wrong or rebellious than accept that God has only given us one answer in whom to trust. And we can't fully trust him if we're busy trusting our peer-pressured prooftexts.

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