Understanding “Grey” Areas

Recently, there was an episode of “Gray’s Anatomy” that sparked a discussion about God with my daughter.

The premise was a patient cut off his own hand because it was causing him to sin, thus taking the Bible literally, because Matthew 5:30 says if one hand causes us to offend, to cut it off.  

The script then inserts the token Christian character who provides a terrible, misguided, and completely wrong interpretations of Scripture, reflecting what is actually a definite hard lean against Christianity and God.

After the show aired, my daughter calls me and asks me if I’ve seen the episode.  It’s been a busy time, and my Tivo is on overdrive recording shows we miss, so this episode was sitting here in queue waiting to be watched.  

I told her I hadn’t seen it yet, and she explains it to me, wanting my opinion on the Christian character’s flustered statement to the now one-handed teenager that the Bible is meant to be a metaphor.

Oh no.  Here it is.  Flashback to my own questions about how to interpret the Bible and topics that thousands of pages have addressed over thousands of years.

My daughter is 20 now, a confirmed Lutheran who attends church and church activities twice a week at college in Kansas.  I couldn’t be prouder.

And at the same time, on some days, after our conversations, I couldn’t be more worried.

It’s part of the cycle of life. At her age, my daughter is in a discovery phase that I personally know well, and without being a researcher, I have a feeling that most kids who grow up in the church go through. For all of us, there comes a time when we discover the need to find our own faith.  There comes a time when we have to make it ours, and move forward from the religious understanding of our family.

I went through that very thing.  I specifically remember sitting in a religious studies class (the irony!) and thinking to myself that I knew nothing of religion beyond what my parents had chosen, and what was spoken in my home.  I remember thinking maybe there was no God, and that everything I grew up believing might not be true.

The real irony is that in college and my adult years, I went through some incredibly difficult times that have allowed me to experience the true redemption and salvation of Jesus Christ.  I feel him in my breath and my heart.  I know he is real, and I know his teachings are real, because I know both the blessing of obedience and the struggle of rebellion. I came to my own faith the hard way.

I don’t want the same for my daughter.

I believe her questions are valid and want to help her find answers.  I know my daughter is now shifting from the milk to the meat. Just as you wouldn’t introduce a whole steak to an infant, rather start with thin oats and gradually move to meat, so the more difficult elements of the Bible need to be introduced into our lives. 

And just like eating crickets or raw calamari, there may be some food that we never understand how to consume.

I believe that is how the Word of God can be for us as we grow as humans.  It doesn’t always make sense; there are elements we are to take literally, and ones that we are to understand to be figurative terms Jesus used help us grasp kingdom principles that are too deep for surface explanations. 

How do we apply them? It’s a combination of the Spirit leading us, a committed study of the Bible, spending time with teachers and elders who know more than we do, and learning from teaching others.  

The Scripture is our resting place and our guide, but it can be confusing.  We just need to make sure we don’t allow a society that is slipping into moral relativism to define it for us.  

And if we choose the protection of God in our hearts and minds, he will keep the Word in our spirits as He intended.

I did get to I watched the episode, but I waited until my weekly call with my daughter so it wouldn’t seem I was calling to contradict or to preach; rather that it was part of our normal weekly discussions.  I was prepared to talk about how Jesus used storytelling as a technique to teach to the people, but I didn’t need to. I let her know I saw the episode and her response was, “wasn’t that so stupid how they turned Christianity around?”

Praise God.

I’ve always said my Tivo is a blessing from God, I never thought it would be literally!  By the time I had a chance to replay this absolutely misguided episode and speak to my daughter about it, the Spirit had already moved her to an understanding.  She took a beautiful new bite of meat on her own, and took one step deeper in her own relationship with God.

Praise him and the ways he works in our lives! Isn’t it miraculous?