Friday, June 06, 2008

Life By The Book

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of chaos and mayhem in my life. As it begins slowly to subside back into the dull roar that is my everyday existence I find myself called to remember my fundamentals.
Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
-- 2 Timothy 3:10-17
When it comes right down to it, being a good Servant requires daily exercise in the fundamentals, just like being a good athlete or stock broker. If you forget the fundamentals, if you don't master the fundamentals, if you don't exercise them consistently, you won't be able to perform when it matters. You'll fail under pressure, you'll choke when complexity increases.

The truth is aspiring to Servanthood is asking for persecution. Just like being the best on the basketball court means you have to expect the strongest defense and the most aggressive players to take you head on. When you are striving for excellence, always be prepared for the attack. It may be a subtle wedge in your life, or a full-on havoc-wreaking hailstorm but it will come. We aren't just promised it will happen, persecution is almost a mark of the true believer. Just like with the Great Temptation, if you want the hunger to stop, if you want freedom from the thirst, you only have to turn away.

A study of this passage in the original language brought about an interesting perspective for me. Paul tells Timothy to "continue in the things you have learned". Which in English would imply a movement or direction. To proceed in the direction you have started. But in reality it means to "stay", to "remain". This really spun my head because of how frequently we talk about the Walk. About how we are growing in Christ or living out our beliefs. But here we are called to "abide", to "rest", to simply "stay".

The world is revolving and in constant movement and change. Only in Him is there permanence, stability, an unchanging absolute. If you are clinging to the Rock, holding fast to the One immovable and everlasting, then you really will stay. Cling tight, and don't be moved. Once you have your grip, continue to hold on. This is very different from the world which always says go forward, keep moving, you need to advance.

How do we continue? What are we called to continue in? In the things we have learned. Our knowledge of Him, our faith. That which we have known from His Word. Which brings us once again, to living by the Word. To being steeped in it daily. To guiding our thoughts by it and leading our hearts from it. These are things that won't happen if it isn't in our minds. If we haven't made it a part of our day, embedded in our life.

Along with the promise of persecution, and the call to continue in what we have learned, is another promise. A realistic, and impactful promise. It is that knowledge of the Word will be profitable. That it will equip the man of God for every good work.

For me that is a promise most practical. If there is one thing I strive for it is to be equipped for doing the good works. I'm a servant; good works is what I do. If I'm going to be successful, I certainly need to keep myself ready and able. I need to ensure I have the resources (mental, emotional, intellectual and otherwise) to serve when the opportunity arises. Being saturated with His Word I am given a promise that I will be given what I need when I need it. And not just enough to meet the need, but to be profitable. To benefit and profit from its use.

Sure, it isn't always easy to find time for the deep dives in the Word that so refresh me, but the rewards are clearly outlined for when I do. And when I am continuing in Him and the storms pick up, it drives me ever closer in spite of my shortcomings.