The more ideas you have about scripture the harder it can become to really listen to scripture. The failure to listen usually happens when you are out to make a point. So you grab a concordance or a site like biblegateway and start plugging words in the search box hoping to find a verse that confirms what you already knew. So you read past maybe even a couple dozen perfectly good verses until you get to the one that is just right.
I think of this as Goldilocks theology…this verse is too soft. This verse is too hard. This verse is just right! We don’t take time ask why the other verses didn’t suit our liking or to wonder if they might actually have something to offer that might better round out our theology than just our hand picked set of proof texts. We don’t wonder if the real problem might be our taste in the firmness of these textual mattresses rather than the texts that are problematic. The truth is, understood correctly there ideally are no problematic verses in the sense that they are all true. The are only problematic from our perspective in that they might be difficult to understand or challenge what we thought.
When we are looking harder for confirmation than transformation we can run into problems.We should want to be informed by as many related texts as possible to get the fullest possible view of what God is trying to tell us.
Confirmation is important. It is important to know what you believe and why. It is important to realize there are scriptures that advance a particular doctrine or set of beliefs. The problem is when we bypass the verses that seem to disprove our thinking in favor of cherry picked verses that at least on the surface agree with our side of the debate. When we do that we become the standard because our selection criteria is no longer what does the Bible say about it, rather, which verses agree with me?
So the next time you settle on a text and think it is too hard or too soft to suit you, why not rest there a while and see if there is something to be learned from those verses that make you least comfortable.