The other day my 4 year old was in the restroom washing his hands, or so I thought. The water was running and he was at the sink, but when I walked by (he almost always leaves the door open) he had the top off of the soap container and was filling it with water. He was actually very proud of this idea, he gladly showed me that he was adding water to the soap because it was almost empty and he thought he would fill it up.
I had to break the bad news to him that instead of fixing the problem, he had actually made it worse. The little bit of soap was now mostly worthless because it was so watered down, it wouldn't really clean our hands anymore and needed to be thrown out.
Truth is a little bit like this. We may have some truth (Jesus loves us or the Bible is good) but if we add to that truth our own ideas or interpretations we potentially lose some of the power of that truth.
We all know that Jesus loves us; but what does that mean? Our culture has taken this true idea and added to it the idea that Jesus is some always happy, smiling caricature. He never gets mad, never judges and is like our best buddy...but this isn't the truth. In the Bible we see Jesus get mad (holy indignation is the proper term), we see him rebuke his disciples and tell them they have little faith, we seem him frustrated and sad and all kinds of emotions besides just happy all the time. It turns out that the love of Jesus is a deeper love, a more complex love that we are led to believe by our watered down truth.
We also are told that the Bible is good, which is true; but we tend to water it down to its simplest version.
Growing up I did learn the stories of Noah or Moses in Sunday School, but I did NOT learn the parts where Noah gets drunk and naked or where Moses killed a man...those parts were conveniently left out. I also learned that the Bible is a simple story of God's love for us; but the truth is far more complex. The Bible is a collection of books, written over thousands of years by many authors (some of whom are unknown to us), in several languages (not English) and requires diligent study to try and understand and interpret. There is nothing simple about it! And while the Bible is good, it is also at times depressing (read the first 11 chapters of Ecclesiastes for example) as well as violent and full of terrible sins (murder, rape, racism and much more). The truth about the Bible has been watered down to the point that when we actually start to read it, we find that we barely recognize it.
In the book of Romans we are told about some who had "exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:25). I pray that we do not also fall into this trap and love the watered down version more than the real truth of God, the complex and real truth of God.
Let us not rely on the easy or simple, on clique answers to the hard questions of life; but to rely on the real God who is so much more than these watered down truths.