It shouldn't surprised me any more, but it still does. Every time I plunge into some passage of the Bible that isn't making sense to me, I get nervous, especially when it is some well know passage that gets quoted often. But when I do, wow! What treasure! Here are two I've dug into recently.
Romans 12:1 - The NASB translation reads like this:
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
I have always understood this to mean something like, "When you make physical sacrifices, God accepts it, is pleased by it, and it is somehow 'spiritual.'" (You see how that last part doesn't really make sense?) Looking closer, the word that is translated "spiritual" here is not the normal one (pneumatikos) but logikos, which is more directly and literally translated just the way it sounds: logical. So, a better way to understand this verse is something like this:
Of course God is pleased with our everyday sacrifices. The way we live every day is the most logical place for true worship!
Understanding the Greek doesn't change the meaning, but it certainly gives better insight than some vague hope that what we do might be "spiritual"!
This word logikos only shows up one other place in the New Testament, 1 Peter 2:2.
Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation. (NASB)
I think the typical take on this passage is something like, "Duh, read the Bible!" And of course, reading the Bible is a great thing. (It is what has lead me to all these thoughts.)
But again, looking closer, both at this word logikos and the broader context of the first two chapters of 1 Peter, a better understanding goes something like this:
Yes, you grew up with a lot of crazy ideas, but now its time to leave all that behind. Come to the one true God. Come to Jesus. He is the one-and-only reasonable, "healthy" choice for pure nourishment.
So, yes, challenging "sacred cows" can be a bit uncomfortable, but it is almost always worth it. Not every generally excepted idea is a bad one, in fact, 99% of the time these ideas are "generally accepted" because they are right! But sometimes, especially when there is some nagging doubt or lack of clarity, it is good to ask a few questions and dig just a little deeper.