When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things. Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. – 1 Corinthians 13:11-12a
My daughter has a couple of cute pet snakes. Every so often, as a sign of health as well as a requirement for growth, they leave their old skin behind. They emerge slightly larger and more colorful, until the next molt.
What a beautiful (except for snake-o-phobes) image of the spiritual life.
Our connection with God grows as we leave behind, or radically adapt, some of our old assumptions and beliefs. Being open to new experiences and discoveries changes things.
Seeking honest answers to perplexing questions is a way of growing new skin and seeing things through a larger lens. Here are some that have shaped my molting process.
How do I know God exists?
If the Bible is God’s Word, why are there so many contradictions and odd things in it?
Is it more important to live correctly or believe correctly?
If something was a “sin” 3,000 years ago, is it still a sin today, in light of the Gospel as well as science?
Is there a literal hell, even when Jesus preached that love wins?
And, of course, why do bad things happen to good people?
The great temptation we face is that, in grappling with these questions, we rely on cookie-cutter answers, either from a literal reading of the Bible or from “authorities.” This keeps us in our old skin. Letting an experience prompt you to do some serious reading, exploring, conversing, and praying pushes you to an uncomfortable constriction you feel pushed to grow out of.
My answers today to the above questions aren’t as unshakable as they were when I was a young man. They’re more authentic, though, and they rely on God’s grace.
Of course, everything could change in the next molt.