This March Davidson became the cinderella team. A number 10 seed they upended their way to the elite eight, only to have midnight strike. Of course, as with any cinderella, the story is in the shoes. Davidson star Stephen Curry took a sharpie and wrote “I can do all things…” on his red basketball shoes. This was a direct reference to Philippians 4:13 and for a moment it seem Curry could do all things. Even in the last seconds the team had a chance to beat Kansas – the eventual champions. But when the shot to win went up it came down with a clank…
Did this make God unfaithful, did Curry lack faith?… Certainly not! More than any verse in scripture Philippians 4:13 is taken out of context. Read alone it appears we can do anything through the power of God, but in reality we can not. I loved baseball growing up – still do – but there was no possibility of me making the majors (I could not even make my high school team!). It was not lack of effort or faith, but that God did promise to let us do all things! Take some time to read Philippians 4:10-20.
Taking in the whole passage we discover Philippians 4:13 does not promise we can do anything with the power God. Paul does not assert through Christ he can fly. Instead Paul reveals no matter the situation – rich or poor – he will remain faithful. He can overcome any suffering, surpass the complacency of any blessing, and remain commented to relationship with Christ!
Reading the Bible is not time to find a favorite verse – we do not read a single page of a novel and declare we understand the tale. Instead we should read the whole passage, the whole book. Even the whole Bible! When we read in context we will move beyond fairy tales and find truth that lasts beyond the stroke of midnight!
To help the students understand context I brought four students to the front for an illustration. I asked them a series of yes/no questions (do you like tacos?). If their answer was “yes” then they moved thier hand, either up or down – depending on where they started. If their answer was “no” then they did not move their hand. So if they answered the first question “yes” they would raise their hand and if they said “no” to the second question their hand would remain raised (if “yes” to the second, their hand would go down).
We went through a bunch of questions and ended with “are you going on choir tour?” They all were going, so everyone moved thier hands. This left two students with their hands up and two with their hands down.
Then I asked the group what would someone who came in only for the last question would think? They would assume the two raising their hands were going on choir tour and the two with their hands down were staying home. Of course that person would be wrong, because they were not aware of all of the questions. In the same way we can not pull out single verses of scritpure and expect to understand. We must must find the context!