“Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.”
2 Timothy 3:16, 17 (Common English Bible)
There are people in the church who have a favorite hymn but not a favorite scripture. They have picked out a favorite piece of music to feed their soul, but they do not have a favorite selection from the Bible to feed their mind. The soul is well nourished. The mind is not. Why would this be? I recall a woman telling me that she does not need to study the Bible. She studied the Bible formally in college classes. That was forty years ago! Asked what her favorite scripture was, she responded, “To thine own self be true.” That is not from the Bible. It is from the Shakespearean tragedy, Hamlet. Yet, she sings in the church choir each week. Classic, traditional church music feeds her soul, she told me. Nourishing the soul while neglecting the mind.
Paul writes to Timothy that God inspires scripture for expanding the mind. The essential value of scripture is to teach, show mistakes, for correcting, and for training character. Beautiful sacred music inspires and takes a weary soul to a place of rest and nourishment. That is important in the life of a disciple. However, it is not enough. Paul reminds us here, as he does in other places, that God created us for a purpose. God created each person to be useful to God. Scripture makes us useful. Scripture shapes us, forms us, and equips us to be participants in God’s work in the world. Inspired by sacred music while lacking usefulness to God is unfinished discipleship.
We belong to God. Paul is clear on that point. Can you imagine staffing your business with people who lack the basic skill set to get the work done? Christian baptism is Kingdom staffing. Baptism is God’s claim on us. God chooses us and provides the Bible as a training manual for equipping us to be useful. Baptism is also our promise. We promise to make God’s work the very center of our life. That means that we will expand our capacities for accomplishing each task God places in our charge. Done well, God’s Kingdom expands continually affecting positively more and more lives. That results in exponential growth of God’s purposes in the world. That is, if each new baptized disciple is useful.
I am asking that you feed your mind daily on God’s word in the Bible. Memorize passages that seem particularly meaningful. Throughout the day, as you go about other tasks, recall to mind those passages you have memorized. Think deeply about why that particular passage is important to you. That simple process accomplishes a big part of God’s work in each person – reflecting on what God intends for us to hear from a portion of scripture that resonates with us. Prayerfully ask two questions: “What would you have me hear, O Lord?” and “What would you have me do, O Lord?” Day after day, you will discover that God’s Spirit is upon you, equipping you for God’s good purposes in the world. That is what discipleship looks like.