The mess and the mystery – Hope 103.2

The mess and the mystery

By David ReayThursday 29 Sep 2016LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read 2 Peter 3:15-16

15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction. (NLT)

Peter hits the nail on the head. Some of what his colleague Paul wrote is hard to understand. Those who reckon the Bible is straightforward reading must be reading a different Bible! Not that it makes no sense. Peter implies that we have enough understanding of Paul to know the basics of salvation.

But there is also much we find hard to understand. And we must learn to live with that rather than trying to resolve all mysteries and explain all complexities and smooth out all tensions. This is the mark of cultic or false teaching: the desire to put everything in black-and-white terms rather than live with paradox. Peter suggests that this is what some have done with the writings of Paul.

It is not the task of the Christian teacher or leader to make everything clear. They certainly need to boldly and clearly speak of what is plain. But they also need to admit they don’t know everything. There is a time to declare with authority that which is clear and a time to recognise the limits of our understanding.

A time to explain and clarify, and a time to help people live with the mess and the mystery of faith and life.

David Reay