I talk with Christians of all stripes about scripture. Regardless of background or denomination, I can usually connect with people in the Lord. Sometimes, though, I’m concerned that we mainly look at the Bible as a place to find the right answers about creation, sexuality, church structure, and a host of other subjects.
Certainly, the Bible is a great place to find answers and to shape one’s worldview. That said, the Bible is more than a way to prove our opinions. It is a way to know God. This is the Bible’s greatest purpose.
Somewhere it is written that if we fathom all mysteries but don’t have love we are nothing. Elsewhere it says the one who thinks he knows something doesn’t yet know as he ought but the one who loves God is known by God. These show the relative importance of having answers versus knowing God, who is love (1 John 4:16).
Again, I don’t wish to knock the importance of finding answers in the Bible. In the early days of my walk, the more I read the Bible, the more confident I became that I could answer any question based on scripture. Now, I’m not sure that’s possible—not because I doubt the Bible but because I haven’t run out of questions yet. We can’t ask what hasn’t occurred to us.
But more than that, I find I’m less interested in answers and more interested in Jesus. We know that Christians can think differently on any number of issues and support their views with scripture. Some things are black and white but scripture does leave gray areas (or “grace areas” as I have come to call them). These are areas where God allows space for us to form our own convictions.
For example, Paul addresses those who eat meat and those who eat only vegetables in Romans 14. He concludes we should reach our own conclusions about these things, trust God with our convictions, and not judge each other. There are scores of such issues that faithful Christians can think differently about.
Often, when talking with a believer who feels strongly that the Bible advocates for this or that conviction, I find I am less interested in taking a position. It’s not that I don’t have opinions on any number of subjects; I do. But I am more interested in how a given passage can reveal Jesus than I am in settling debates.
Concerning differences of opinion, Philippians 3 has some of my favorite advice. Paul urges people to pursue knowing Christ (Php. 3:7-14). Then he says, “Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you” (Php. 3:15).
Paul would rather we focus on knowing Jesus than on having all the answers. This mindset is an indicator of spiritual maturity. Paul acknowledges we’ll think differently about some things and suggests we trust God with that. Knowing Jesus is more important than homogenizing our opinions.
God is constantly challenging my assumptions. In some cases, perhaps many cases, today’s convictions raise tomorrow’s questions. Thankfully, the Spirit of Truth is here to lead us into all truth. Not surprisingly, “all truth” is Christ and what is His (John 15:26; 16:13-14).