The Theospeak Guy has posted The Hardest Verse in the Bible in which he discusses “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30 KJV). It got me to thinking about what believers find most difficult to deal with in Scripture. Recently, blogging memes have been all the rage as a concept is picked up and addressed by blog after blog and an idea makes its way across the intellectual landscape and is addressed from many different perspectives.
Challenge: I would like to challenge everyone who reads this post to think, pray, and write about what for them is the hardest verse in the bible, and then trackback to this post. I believe it will be both interesting and useful to see if any patterns develop within these verses. Dont worry if your verse is the same as someone elses. Just explain why it is personally a hard verse for you.
My Hardest Verse In The Bible
I have always struggled with rejection and for many reasons the fear of rejection often prevents me from appreciating the assurances I receive. Many people who grew up in situations that were in many ways not affirming, understand what I am talking about (See my post on Dads). Those who early in life had very little affirmation, often find it hard later in life to believe they are really accepted. For them rejection is a ghost that haunts their every step. Even though my father has made an effort to extend to me love and acceptance now, it has not yet succeeded in healing the underlying brokenness. I say “yet” because I still have hope for the future.
God was most gracious to me in giving me an utterly faithful and loyal wife. I don’t know what I would have done in less secure circumstances. Loyalty, above all else, is what touches that deep sense of brokenness. With that in mind my most difficult verse is:
And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:23
Of all the words spoken throughout all of the history of creation, those are for me the most chilling, the most frightening. “I never knew you.” Those who stood before Jesus thought they were known by him and this event was a pro forma exercise. They thought they were among the number of the elect, and yet they were not.
Those words drive deep into my heart and judge all of who I am and what I do. I well know that I cannot “work” my way into being known of him, into salvation. But while I understand that my efforts at righteousness are merely the fruit of my resurrected life, I tend to see the sin in my life as a sign of my failure, as an example of bad fruit from a bad root. Yes, I repent and yes I know there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, in whom I trust, but there is always that little (and late at night bigger) voice which says, “He doesn’t know you. You are whistling in the wind.”
It is no wonder that people flock to charismatic and Pentecostal approaches to the faith, since they at least offer the possibility of experiencing God and Christ in a way that belies him ever saying he never knew you. Your heart screams out that if I can just touch God and have him turn his face to me and smile, then all would be right with the world. For hearts broken by a sense of fundamental rejection, for whom it is so easy to see repudiation where it might not exist, this yearning for an experiential sense of acceptance is no small thing. It is so easy for those of us with this problem to allow the wiles of the devil to bring us low. We struggle against whispers seeking validation.
Yes, I have decided for Christ. Yes, I have repented and continue to repent of my sin. Yes, I cry out to him for forgiveness and acceptance, willingly laying everything at his feet by my active choice. But then sin happens, or doubt creeps in and that voice whispers, “Did you really make that commitment? Did he really accept you? Does he really know you? Where is the new man you are supposed to be? Why doesn’t God validate you in some real way?”
For some of us, living out the Christian life is a titanic struggle. Not at the intellectual level. We understand the gospel. We understand the faith. But at the deepest level of acceptance we live in an ongoing dark night of the soul. That is our test of faith, the cross we are destined to bear. Our reason says everything is right with God. Our deep brokenness leaves us unsure, with only a fragile trust to see us across the great divide. We are not as strong as we appear. We are a strange contradiction of absolute faith and teetering despair. We pray for mercy and assurance and we understand Job as well as anyone can. In the end we long to hear those most glorious of words, not the hardest, but the sweetest words in the Bible.
Then the King will say to those on his right, “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Matthew 25:34
May the grace of God give to you the peace that passes all understanding. May it gird up your heart and mind in the knowledge and love of Christ Jesus our Lord, so that you may have the everlasting assurance of your acceptance by God in Christ, assuring you that you are numbered among the elect and his own forever. May you at the last hear, “Come…” Amen.
Update: I didn’t do this for fun. I did it to get people to examine what they find difficult in the Bible and hopefully gather those thoughts here. I wanted to see if there were any patterns and maybe get a series of postings or a book out of this. So far, though over a hundred people have read this post I have only gotten one inquiry. I would like to suggest that if you do write a post on this subject that you tag two other people to write one also. The only requirement would be for them to either trackback to this post or leave a comment or send an email with the URL to their response. Grace and peace. I am starting by tagging two people.