“This does not look appealing,” she said. “That’s the whole point.”
This is a brief conversation between my wife and I as we discussed the recent blog. Just a recap for those who weren’t following along, the previous devotional was designed to lay the framework for exploring texts from different cultures. We briefly touched upon the science behind interpreting Scriptures to which I will continue to build upon here.
for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 2 Timothy 2:9 ESV
Strange place to begin but bear with me here. This week has been tough; I intended to build a lot of things this week after quietly going through pain. And when I thought I felt good enough to get more stuff done, another recurring pain has paralyzed me. I hope you can imagine the frustration that I’m feeling; I just want to get things done. Yet my own frailties is showing me that you move according to the strength God provides.
We learned recently that Biblical scriptures independently and collectively constitute as one complete thought. Who cares about thoughts though? The general consensus is that words don’t matter, actions do. Don’t give me empty language; empty promises, performative love, performative justice. etc. Give me solutions, give me change, show me you’re about that life with your walk.
Treating the Rash
The problem with putting actions before thoughts or words is that the actions are uninformed. It is equivalent to someone who has a cut on their foot deciding to self-medicate by putting a bandage on their arm. While they may have the right tool for the problem, they are probably missing additional tools and applying the wrong area. The same can be said about the ineffectiveness of the church. We have the word of God, but where to apply it in everyday life is a struggle often due to being misinformed about God’s Word to begin with.
Hermeneutics deals with interpretation. Due to the nature of the Bible, it is necessary to have this skill. However, if we stopped at understanding correctly what the Bible says, we have cut off the rest of the spiritual sciences God has provided. Bible study would be relegated to something like a relic to be studied in a museum, rather than something that is active and alive in our very midst. To adequately challenge the notion that words do not matter, additional research and analysis needs to be performed. We must move on from simply comparing Scriptures with Scripture. Let’s begin with specimen now:
I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors,
with a clear conscience,
as I remember you
constantly in my prayers
night and day.
For which I am
chains as a
But the word
Those Scriptures are not put together merely for artistic sake. There is more to it. What is taking place here? What research and analysis can be made to study its activity? To those who have ears to hear and eyes to see go your ways. Remember to not go ahead of the light provided for you and fight to maintain a pure heart. When the morning star approaches, we will reveal more about this. For now, let’s keep things under wrap. For the rest of us, let’s break our devotional verse down.
The Mirrors Volley
Christianity teaches that there are two worlds where wars take place; the war of the world and the war of the spiritual realm. Every once in a while, the two worlds collide. It is also taught that the word of God is a mirror to the soul. Not only does the Bible reveal the nature of God, it also reveals the true nature of the reader.
for which I am suffering…2 Tim 2:9a
To which some of you will read this and laugh because you’re thriving right now. Let me add that the broadest definition of suffering is to undergo or experience something. You can experience good and pleasure and/or evil and pain. In this life we can expect suffering in both until the Kingdom of Heaven is established upon the earth.
aNd Yeast Abounds
The Bible will show a person that they are not as good as they think. If the reader is humble, they will also realize they are not as smart or wise as they presume themselves to be. Of course, this assumes that the person believes that what the Bible is saying is true. And there are plenty of reasons to believe the Bible is not so it is reasonable to approach the Scriptures skeptically on the onset. Nevertheless, the Bible teaches that disobedience to the laws of God bring about slavery leading to death.
Bound with chains as a criminal…2 Tim 2:9b
But Paul is considered a holy man who feared God and followed Christ. It seems that his loyalty to Jesus brought more troubles than he would imagine. It would be an oversimplification then to say that good things happen to good people while bad things happen to bad people. It is possible to undergo things at no fault of your own.
You Free Dough
The gospel of Christ teaches there is freedom ‘from’ the mundane things of life. Worldly freedom usually is heralded in the following ways
- Financial freedom: Get enough wealth so you can live life like you want
- Personal freedom: Do whatever you want when you want, it’s your life
- Sexual freedom: An extension of personal freedom but revolving around sex
The freedom that the Gospel preaches is one of transcendence and is shared with other philosophies and religions (e.g. Islam). For Christians, this transcendence is accomplished through staying in God’s Word. There is a need for comparison and contrasts of transcendental freedom amongst different worldviews if we are serious about reconciliation.
But the word of God is not bound! 2 Tim 2:9c
Let me take a tangent here as now is a good time to feed two birds with one loaf. There is much contention over the purity of the Gospel in recent years and for good reasons. A lot of it stems from how people interpret Scriptures hence the reason why I’m speaking up. A great deal of Christians interpret God’s word through compartmentalizing or through linear context (how it relates to scriptures within the Chapter, other Chapters etc.) Very few integrate or juxtapose words together. So when we see this:
No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Tim 2:4 NIV
Many people will get the idea that true Evangelism requires total abandonment of all worldly concerns preaching Jesus at every chance they get to others. While that notion is correct, it is only a partial truth. If Paul thought that Christians shouldn’t get involved in any worldly affairs, why speak of civil matters in the next two verses?
Perhaps the suffering that comes through proclaiming the Gospel isn’t necessarily only being on the front lines as an Evangelist, behind the pulpit, or street witnessing. Perhaps there is a war zone just as violent in Evangelizing as there is in attending your business or working for corporations. It may be possible to proclaim the Gospel through your work, with or without saying a word, with or without speaking ‘Christianese’ (Christian jargon). Is the word of God only proclaimed from a certain political party? Is seeking the welfare of those marginalized or promoting policies that benefit all against the call of the gospel? There is so much more I can say about this as so I hope you can see a plausible reason to exploring texts in different cultures. For certainly there are levels to this. Let’s not emasculate the potency of words through our narrow views of understanding.
My heart goes out to all those who are going through tough times right now. I want you to know that someone out here cares and is going through right alongside you. I just came out of urgent care yesterday after going through excruciating pain for the past couple of days. Didn’t think I’d get on here and receive more bad news. Remember, for all of us who are in Christ we are one body. We’ll continue this devotional soon. Love you dearly.
Has this devotional been a blessing to you? Are you suffering and in need of prayer? Want more insight into how words are juxtaposed or integrated together? Please comment below and share with others.