6 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV)
Do you have a bucket list? You know that list of things you’ve always wanted to do before you, well, kick the bucket. In short it’s the list of things you’ve always wanted to do before you die. It could be visiting an exotic locale. Or starting a business, or bungee jumping, zip lining over Niagara Falls (it doesn’t have to be sane to get on your bucket list.).
I imagine almost everyone has a bucket list of some kind. we all have dreams and wishes. Things we’d like to do before we die. Or things we’d like to do if our finances or family situations change to the point where we can do them. Oh, I think we know we won’t accomplish all of them. But most of us would be satisfied with at least knocking off a good portion of our list.
And to the end that a bucket list keeps you dreaming, they are good things. It’s nice to have aspirations. It’s also healthy for us to have goals that we want to reach regardless of age, time or life limitations. And everyone’s list is different. Some of them are exotic. But to others might seem more mundane, such as dancing at a grandchild’s wedding. so almost every bucket list has good in it.
The operative word being almost. I recently came across a different type of bucket list. A well known pastor and leader in the UMC has written a book on how to understand the Bible. Please understand I have respect for what this minister has done in serving the church in many ways. At the same time I am greatly troubled by his “bucket list”
He writes that there are three buckets into which Scripture fall
- Scriptures that express God’s heart, character and timeless will for His people
- Scriptures that express God’s will in a particular time but no longer binding
- Scriptures that never fully expressed God’s heart character or will.
Now that sounds good. Logical. We have Scriptures that we know from bucket 1 are binding. Bucket 2 isn’t as binding, but if we dig deep enough, we can find a principle behind it. Bucket 3 is for those scriptures we need not see as binding on our hearts. It sounds good, but these are some pretty troubling buckets.
One of the problems we have, is that it leaves us asking what to do with the Scripture above. If it goes in bucket one, then we have to do away with the third bucket all together. If it goes into bucket two we might need to ask what then, with any legitimacy goes into the first bucket? What it comes down to, in all honesty, is simply an attempt to legitimize beliefs that are not congruent with Scripture, which is a very dangerous position for any Christian to be in.
But less I sound too critical against the author, the truth is we all do this. His idea is nothing new. We all have certain buckets we place Scripture in. We have that all important first bucket. We place in it the Scriptures that make us feel good, the ones that warm our hearts like a cup of coffee on a cold winter morning. And some of us have a second bucket. That’s for those scriptures that aren’t easy to understand and we’d really not have to dig too deep into them. After all, we are busy people and if God has something to say to us,he ought to spit it out in a plain, easy to understand manner.
All of us, heaven help us, have that third bucket. It’s the bucket we place Scriptures that make us uncomfortable. The ones that challenge us. The Scriptures that go against the flow of cultural acceptance. These are the Scriptures that, if we live them out, will cause us to stand out from everyone else and take on a completely different set of values. They are the Scriptures that cause us to look into the dark recesses of our souls and drag our sins into the light.
Of course, if we take the Scripture at the top of the page seriously, we must admit the first bucket, with all its warm fuzzies, are still true and have value. But here is the rub. While those Scriptures help me, they rarely change me. The times of deepest spiritual growth in my life have come from being challenged by God. They come when God’s word calls me to look at the world around me and live differently. The Scriptures that cause me to wrestle with God are the ones that prove the most valuable. That’s probably true for you as well.
So let me encourage you to kick the bucket. Embrace all of God’s word. It’s not easy. It won’t make you popular. It might change your life. But it will be worth it.
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><