A few weeks ago, I was helping out in BLAST, our mid-week kid’s program here at the church. They needed help in my son’s class, so I was there.
During my time there, the story was on trusting God, and talking about Abraham, Isaac and God. After talking about it for a while, our leader asked someone to summarize it. They had done a great job teaching, and so Hudson jumped right up and shared about the story. And then, as he recounted it exactly as it happened (about God asking Abraham to trust him by being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac), Hudson looked confused and then said, “Wait, I don’t get it.”
I think that’s incredibly honest because honestly, who does get this story? I mean it’s not an easy story to understand in a straightforward way. Scholars have loads of interpretations of this story and Jewish Midrash (a genre of rabbinic literature) on this story are pretty extensive too. Some have creative ways of interpreting it, in which God isn’t asking for a sacrifice, but rather to teach a lesson on the lack of need for sacrifice. Others read it in a straightforward way that comes with complications about God’s character. And, my post isn’t to wade into all of the complexities and offer you my interpretation (although, of course, I have one).
My point is just this – sometimes when you come to a difficult biblical passage, it’s okay to say, “I don’t get it.” There are lots of these stories in the Bible that almost defy an easy, straightforward explanation. The story of Abraham and Isaac is one. The story of the shrewd manager is another, in which it seems like God is in favour of cheating. The parable of the talents in Luke is another story that is anything but straightforward.
So, I write all this to remind us of one thing – it’s okay to say, “I don’t get it.” Following Jesus and trusting in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s easily accessible (or make it such either). The fact that there are tough things to interpret doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it to put in the work to understand it deeper.
So, this post is meant to be an encouragement because what I was reminded of, through my son, is that we forget, as adults, thatit’s okay to say that you don’t get it, to wrestle with the text, to wonder, and to have doubts and questions. Because, as Hudson learned that night at BLAST, that’s the start to learning – by saying you don’t understand.
So, saying, “I don’t get it” isn’t wrong. Sometimes, it’s just honest.