Upon surviving a shipwreck and arriving on the island of Malta, Paul helps gather some firewood for a fire that some of the people living on the island had made for everyone who had just come ashore. As he did so, a snake not only bit him on the hand but also held on to him.
Acts 28: 4 – 6 chronicles the native people’s reaction, When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.
In their minds, Paul goes from being a murderer to being a god. How can that be? How can they change their minds so dramatically about who Paul is? How can that be so wrong about what he is?
They don’t know him.
Similarly, how can so many different perceptions of God exist? How can we believe that God is this angry, wrathful being who can’t wait to smite someone? How can we think God is a divine genie? How can we think God is this weak being that will not hold us accountable for the wrong things we do and the right things we don’t do? How can we think that?
We don’t know Him.
How do you view God? Why do you view Him that way? Are your views of God shaped by what you were taught as a child? Are your views of God shaped by what you hope to be true? Are your views of God shaped by your own personal experiences? Are your views of God shaped by what you read in the Bible?
What you think about God is important, but it is also important to think about why you think what you think about God.
The same is true for the Bible. I have found that often we think the Bible says something because we believe it. In other words, we let our opinions and feelings inform how we read the Bible instead of allowing the Bible to inform our opinions and feelings. We read the Bible for affirmation not transformation. Often we are surprised to find that things we thought were in the Bible aren’t, and then we are surprised to find some things that are in the Bible. There’s a really simple way to avoid this surprise.
Read the Bible. Doing so will also help with those misconceptions about God because when you read the Bible you will get to know God. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing where you spend an hour a day reading. If you want to do that go for it, but in just 5 minutes a day for 16 days you can read through the gospel of Mark. That’s just one chapter a day to get you through one of the accounts of Jesus’ time on Earth. If you’ll do that challenge, I’ll bet you’ll find that you want to keep reading on day 17 as well. So why not give it a shot? It’s five minutes a day for a little over two weeks. You’ll learn something knew about Jesus I guarantee, and when you learn more about Him, you’ll know Him better. Then, you’ll realize that He is worthy following.