“Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us” (The Message, Eugene Peterson II Tim. 3:15).
Not everyone likes a paraphrased translation in which the exact words are not translated so much as the ideas captured. Yet there are times when those paraphrases seem to better capture the spirit of a Biblical writer’s sentiments than a more formal translation. This one from II Tim. is an example.
When you break down that passage above, do you find any commonality with the Timothy writer in how the Bible is impacting your life? I do. The phrase, ‘training us to live God’s way’, stands especially out. I knew it intellectually before, but life has the best way of moving these powerful ideas from head to heart.
This year has been about discovering how much of the Bible is God’s story, and how figures like Paul and the author of Luke/Acts really glimpsed that. As Luke wrote about Jesus’ ministry and how the early Church worked to continue it through the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, you realize all these early Christians were living their lives by new rules — by God’s rules.
Nothing has really changed today. We listen for where to go, who to work with or for, which partner to bond with for life, how to raise children, how to move through tragedies and sorrows, better ways to interact with those in our faith communities, how to support our friends and neighbors when they’re going through deep water and all the other demands life throws at you. This is training time! We’re being trained by having all those rough edges get rubbed off through love and patience and kindness, just as those Biblical characters had to learn to do.
Maybe that’s why the Bible is the Living Word. It lives inside us, shapes us, trains and forms us — or we ignore it, let the culture tell us it’s increasingly anachronistic or only fable-based. Bless the hearts of all who underestimate this library of books (the actual meaning of ‘biblia). Each of us have an enormous privilege to learn how much the Bible can guide our lives, provide shortcuts of heartache, and above all, enter into a relationship with our loving Creator that isn’t abstract but concrete, real, present. That’s actually possible and the Bible is a record of people who got that and proved it.
Virtually every civilization has looked for ways to know a higher power, yet so many of those were man-created gods, usually more dreaded and placated than just worshiped. Then along came the Israelites, that ethnic group of the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament that early glimpsed, through Moses, that although God is not seen with the senses or made of matter as other deities, He is the great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). We have the opportunity to be a modern “Moses”, metaphorically climbing our own version of ‘Mt. Sinai’ to experience God’s saving power as Moses experienced it centuries ago. In fact, we could look at each Biblical character’s life and see how our experience mirrors their own, then pull out and apply lessons from each of them.
So for all the special weeks designated for this cause or that individual, I’d say “National Bible Week” is a perfect time to put everything on pause and really think about our Bible, what it means to us, how better we can delve into its stories and parables and letters to find God more. After all, it’s Her story. Please share your ideas and comments below. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.