You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:10-17, ESV)
If you really want to dig into the meaning of this blog title and the impact of this passage deeper, I strongly suggest you carve out about an hour of your time and listen to this message from Scott Wildey of Flood Church in San Diego. Download the MP3 and play it while you workout or just relax - I guarantee it will challenge your thinking about how these verses (verse 16 in particular) have been explained before. For now, I’ll give you my thoughts on the challenge to my heart and how what Scott said plays into other things I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of years.
The division of our Bibles into verses, chapters, and even books is a wonderful thing … up to a point. These formats make it easier for a writer, preacher, one who memorizes, and even a reader to share a particular word from God or any of a host of other practical applications. Yet, they also provide an artificial barrier to what the story as a whole is trying to tell us. For example, I was part of a team teaching a class a few years ago that focused on the “fruit of the Spirit” from Galatians. During my preparation, I took the opportunity to listen to the entire letter Paul wrote multiple times so I could understand the context of that little list. What struck me is that the “list” itself is pretty much an afterthought to the rest of the letter. That event and several other things cemented the whole concept in my mind.
God didn’t write “individual verses, chapters, or books”. God spoke through individuals who related their part of His story and great people through history preserved and translated it so we can read it for ourselves today. And, while we might find practical application in any part of it (just like the verse above says), we can’t lose sight of the bigger purpose of Scripture as one massive story - a story that always points toward redemption because of what Jesus did. To view it as less, which was Scott’s main point, is to reduce it (and God) to the trite sayings of a fortune cookie or the “magic” of that liquid-filled 8-ball we played with so long ago. And, if you are doing only that, you are missing far too much.
The Crooked Path takes us on an intensely personal journey that has been walked millions of times by others just like us. We tread the same ground, the same ups and downs as so many others did and many more will. The one constant in our journey is the Divine Brother who the Father provides to walk the path along side of us. He gives us His Word as a story of how to live and grow, and He gives us Himself as the way to learn and apply it. Paul, in his “last will and testament” that is our book of Second Timothy tells his protoge this exact thing - search the Story and find yourself a part of it … then let God use you as He would.