I have heard many people say that they find God to be an offensive concept, or that they feel like there are times when the Bible or God offends them, even though they do believe. So, I thought that I would try to shed some light into this issue and, hopefully, help provide a clearer understanding of why this seems to be a commonly heard idea.
Early in my development as a Christian, I would read my Bible with many emotions that I should not have held about such a task. I allowed myself to tread into the territory of feeling much like a child who is constantly asking “why do I have to?” with the obvious answer of “because I told you so” ringing out in response. Apart from that feeling though, many times there was a feeling of dread. I felt it every time I came across certain verses or passages that I did not particularly like. These verses and the ideas that they presented stung me in certain ways and offended my senses quite forcefully. Why would the Bible offend me? It is the living word of God, the absolute and perfect scriptures that He has revealed to us. But what if that is exactly the issue?
There is a certain stigma about the truth that it seems we have let slip into our lives without even having noticed that it exists. How often does the truth feel good? Are we more likely to give the truth to someone because we think it will feel good for them to hear? Or do we give them the truth because we believe that lying to them might feel better in the moment, but be more detrimental in the long run? There is no doubt that the truth is painful. Sometimes the smallest truth that relates to us can bother us all day when we hear it. But what about truths that relate to our character, how we live, even our very principles? Let’s face it, the truth hurts. It is especially painful when it involves such deep parts of ourselves such as our beliefs, our principles, our moral standing, and our sinfulness.
I believe that this is perhaps the exact reason that there are many times when the Bible hurts us or offends our senses as we read it. It is directly comparable to turning on the lights and watching all the little creatures, that were comfortable in the dark, flee from the light that has revealed them. When we allow God and His word into our hearts, I think pain, shame, and a certain dread is exactly what we should feel. If that is not what we feel in some capacity, then perhaps we have not truly opened our hearts to Him. Such feelings are completely natural when fallen and sinful beings come into the presence of the all good, all powerful, and perfect God that we serve.
Jesus Christ died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. But before sin can be forgiven, we must be sorry that the sin is there in the first place. The forgiveness of God requires repentance, which means that if we open our hearts to Him and accept Him, He will reveal to us those things which we must repent of and correct. He will reach into our hearts and our minds and show us what needs to be removed. The more we grow in Him and study His word, the more we will discover what needs to be fixed in our lives. This is because God desires to use us for His purpose, and to be capable of fulfilling His purpose, we must first stop fulfilling the world’s purpose. But that does not mean this will be a smooth transition. As with the little creatures that run from the light, so is our sinful nature to the light of God’s goodness.
In Genesis 3:8-10, we are shown that once Adam and Eve sinned, they were ashamed. They hid themselves from the presence of God when He came into the garden, because they were ashamed. We are not proud of our sin when it is revealed to us. It hurts to be shown how desperately wicked our hearts truly are. But just as it hurts when we put antiseptic on an open wound, so will it hurt for a time when God comes in to cleanse our hearts and make us new.
Finally, remember that sin is terribly destructive. It destroys and corrupts everything that participates in it. We are all guilty of sin, and that sin is forgiven through Christ if we accept Him. But the scars of our sin, the marks that it makes upon us will remain with us until we are given our new lives and new bodies. There may be times when the sin of the past may sting us like an old injury that occasionally flares up. So, if you have repented of your sin, and yet still feel that sting of shame, take time to pray and ask God to keep you from making the same mistakes again.
In conclusion, if you find yourself feeling offended when you read the Bible, if you feel as if you are ashamed, or that it hurts to read certain passages remember that growth does not come without pain. The fact that this is being revealed to you is not cause to retreat in shame, it is cause to charge forward through it. Recognize that this is something in your life that you likely need to focus on correcting and pray for His guidance. Be encouraged by the fact that God is taking the time with you to reveal the sin. That means He is working in your life and helping you to grow. God never promised to make such things painless, but He did promise to take our deserved death and replace it with eternal life.
I hope that this helps to clear up some of the confusion on this subject. Questions or Comments are welcome. God Bless you all and thank you.