If you were to borrow my Bible, one of the first things you'd notice is that I've marked it up – quite a bit – over the years. I've developed a habit of using a mechanical pencil (usually) and a 6" ruler ... along with an assortment of colored pencils. I love colored pencils.
Most often I use the Orange pencil to highlight words about God's great rescue in Christ. So, words like save, rescue, and deliver are often rendered Orange. Verses related to prayer or the resurrection of Jesus or suffering ... end up Yellow. References to the Holy Spirit are usually in Blue. I admit, however, that I am inconsistent in the colors I choose ... they vary from book to book, sometimes dependent on my mood.
While I believe color-coding the Canon can be constructive, a potential pitfall peeks out beneath the pigmentation – we may skip over verses that declare God is different or bigger than we think. While we multicolor John 3:16, we fail to spotlight Isaiah 6:3 ("Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory"). That is no small mistake, but the biggest error of all.
A.W. Tozer brilliantly put his finger on the problem in the introductory words of his book, Knowledge of the Holy:
"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us ... For this reason, the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most important fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like."
What do we conceive God to be like? Usually, it's the highlighted verses.
The Scary Situation
So, while highlighting can be good (and I clearly do it), it may come with some risk. We may become so dependent on what we've highlighted about God that we ignore other verses that don't meet our criteria ... that didn't seem worthy of the colored pencil.
I've assembled a list (below) of verses in the Bible that nearly no one highlights, because these verses ...
- Scare us.
- Don't seem positive.
- Don't align with our desired view of God. (e.g. "God is primarily loving, to the exclusion of anything else He might be.")
Read on for some uncomfortable verses that seldom get colored. Or, if they do, it's with a black Sharpie©.
- "All those who wish to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." 2 Timothy 3:12
- [God re: Paul] "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." Acts 9:16
- "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:33
- "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God." Mark 10:23
- "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." Matthew 10:37
- "If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell." Matthew 18:9
- "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." Matthew 5:44
- "All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." Mark 13:13
- "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62
- "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known." Luke 12:2
- "For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in him but also to suffer for his sake." Philippians 1:29
- "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14
- "Since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same purpose..." 1 Peter 4:1
Why don't we memorize these kinds of verses? Is it because there is something about them that grates against what we want God to be like? Hmm. I wonder. What if meditating on these kinds of verses would open up to us the greater and more mysterious glory of the one true God?
Food for thought. I still plan to use my colored pencils ... but I'm more inclined than ever to highlight those difficult verses. How about you?