All Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes—training and shaping us that we may be up to the tasks God has for us.
II Timothy 3:16-17
Now, I want to invite you to take a deep breath as we consider how these well-known "lyrics" of 2 Timothy might mean something beyond what we originally heard or understood. If Scripture breathes…if it is alive…then it is necessarily more dynamic than something that is not. A living Scripture will change as we go; stories and words that meant one thing to us in one season of life will deepen and even mean something completely different in another season. If Scripture breathes…if it is really alive…then it is necessarily more dangerous to our status quo than something that is not. Dead things, lifeless things don’t threaten our norms; they don’t challenge us; they don’t cause us to grow or transform. Living things affect us—and not always in the ways that we want. And if Scripture breathes…if it’s alive…then it demands a response. We must either be responsive to it or deny its breath—treating it as though it is not alive at all.
And friends, I’m not talking about atheists or other religions when I refer to treating the Scripture as though it’s not alive. As long as there has been Scripture, there have been deeply religious people capable of clinging to the Scripture while living unchanged, loveless, breathless lives. We can be devout, Sunday-school attending, tithing Christians that worship a dead book.
But if it breathes like me, if it’s alive like you, then we must respond. We can’t keep something alive in front of us—inside of us—and not respond to it. Maintaining and nourishing life is a responsibility…it demands response.
If 2 Timothy 3:16 is just a "proof-text", that proves to me that the Bible was literally dictated or written by God, then it is only good for one thing...measuring. If our breath doesn’t connect us to it in any way… If our dirty humanity doesn’t infect its pages... If it's simply a perfect rulebook in the hands of imperfect people…then all we can do with it is decide whether we are following the rules well enough to be okay with God.
But if it’s alive like creation… If it breathes in like our neighbors do and exhales like our enemies do…then not only will it change, it will change us.
It will require us to respond.
It will continually invite us to accept the responsibility we have
to this God-breathed story
as bearers of God’s breath in this God-breathed universe.
The God of the Bible doesn’t diminish our freedom in order to work around us.
The God of the Bible doesn’t dictate the divine voice while dismissing ours as irrelevant.
The God of the Bible breathes into us, dwells within and among us, and works in and through us.
Friends, we live now—as we always have—in an imperfect world. Tragedy, injustice, greed, corruption, and sickness have always been, and they are still today. We know that. How will we respond?
What good news will we breathe into this world?
A divinely dictated, inerrant rulebook that allows us to sit passively on the sidelines safe and sound in the knowledge that we measure up?
A breathing story of a loving God who is as close to us as our very breath—a mountain of love firm beneath our feet—accepting, transforming, and calling us forward into a relationship that’s alive?
You probably know this before you read it, but:
The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind.
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