Grace and Peace to you.
All scripture is inspired by God
and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction,
and for training in righteousness,
so that everyone who belongs to God
may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
—2 Timothy 3. 16-17
This doesn’t mean all scripture is dictated by God. It means that the Spirit is present in its writing, and in its reading. Listen to some authors of inspired scripture: “I decided… to write…” (Lk. 1.2-3). “I say to you—I, and not the Lord…” (1 Cor. 7.12). “I suppose…” (Jn. 21.25). Scripture, though inspired, comes from very human authors. That is, of course, the way grace always comes to us: in ordinary and even flawed means, in crummy situations and through regular, broken, imperfect people.
As we read scripture, and as we “read” life, we don’t merely take the words we hear at face value. Sometimes people—even biblical writers— are mistaken; yet in their struggles, in their voice, there is grace to receive, there is truth to discern. But we have to discern it. The serpent may lie to Eve; prophets may say “peace, peace,” when there is no peace; armies who slaughter whole villages may claim God told them to; faithful people may argue two different sides; the Psalmist may examine God’s absence to discern God’s presence. Even Jesus said some things that “ain’t necessarily so,” to get us to wonder, to invite us to discern. We do not blindly follow any of these voices or take their words literally: we discern God’s voice among and beneath and beyond them, even when they are wrong. Sometimes the truth is not in the answer but in the struggle. We can see God’s leading in the footprints of the Israelites in the wilderness, even when they were lost. We would not follow their 40-year route, but every step was inspired. God led them. All scripture is inspired: the Spirit was present in the original experiences, and in the writing, so we allow it to be present in our reading. Ultimately it’s not the authors we want to hear; it’s God.
Your life is inspired. The Spirit is present, even when you understand or believe wrongly, even when you do not understand or believe at all. Read scripture with the Spirit’s help, and live each moment as if you are reading scripture. Listen beneath the literal words for the Living Word. Even in the most ungodly carryings-on, listen for God’s grace. Listen for what will equip you for every good work.
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