“If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.” St. Augustine
As a music therapist, I know that we put ourselves into the music we hear, the art that we see, and even the books that we read. Our own experiences color and fill in the spaces of any form of communication. So, this statement from St. Augustine is a tough one to swallow sometimes.
There will be parts of the Gospel that challenge us. There will be parts of the Gospel that seem to threaten us. And, there will be parts of the Gospel that encourage and comfort us. The problem is that we tend to avoid the negative parts and focus on the positive ones. It is wonderful to focus on the idea that Jesus loves all of us, and that there is nothing that we can do that would make Him stop loving us. It’s true, and we need to be able to take that to heart.
But if we stop there, then we don’t allow Jesus to help us to grow in our relationship with Him. What parent would allow their children to do anything they wanted without correction, because they “love them unconditionally?” It wouldn’t be a good parent. A good parent would love their child, in spite of their failings, and would love them enough to help them overcome those failings.
So, struggle with those sections that don’t make sense or that make you uncomfortable. Look into them and see what you can find. Go through them and see what grace there is for you on the other side. I bet you’ll find it.