12Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. 14But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 1I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom: 2Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 3For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 5But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. (2 Timothy 3:12-17; 4:1-5 NLT)
Explains a lot, doesn’t it? I could probably just leave this commentary right there and let scripture speak for itself. It does not take a person long to apply these Truths to individual lives – to the life of the local congregation – to the tension that exists between the church and the world as well as within the church itself. We professed Christians, more often than not, are the first to stray away from the simple teaching of Paul to his young apprentice. “Preach The Word,” Paul tells Timothy – THE WORD. Not your own thoughts, or commentaries, or movie plots, or biographies, or song lyrics. Not from personal experience or third-party anecdotes or what you or anyone else thinks ABOUT what the Bible says – We are told to preach WHAT the Bible says.
Scripture speaks of repentance and submission and obedience – yet in the lives of many believers we see no evidence of any of those. The Bible speaks of healthy human sexuality, but we are growing more and more afraid to talk about that in the face of secular and now “Christian” backlash. The Bible speaks of conflict management – but we learn that from Dr. Phil; money management, yet we follow the ways of secular bankers; and what a healthy relationship looks like, yet we turn to Oprah and soak in the wisdom. Who is raising our children - a God-following family or the television? Who is leading our youth - submitted Christian role models or the public education system and social media outlets? Does the family even matter anymore? It does to Christ – but do we care anymore what matters to Christ? It seems as though we as the church have come to a place of submitting Christ to our will – or believing we have done so anyway.
Does church serve people? Or does church serve Christ? Build a church to serve people, and people will come – much like they come to Disney World or Wal Mart. Build it for Christ and who will dare come? We should be willing to find out, but I think that we are too afraid. “We are blessed!” we cry. How do we know? Because we are big! We are rich! We are famous! People love us! We sing and we celebrate our perceived blessings as somewhere in the world (who knows or who really cares where) another submitted Christian, persecuted, starving to death, or put to death, closes his eyes for the last time thankful for the only true blessing – his salvation. God abhors our largesse and our idol worship; but we will not stop. How could we? It matters not if God loves us, as long as the world does.
These are sobering, challenging thoughts – at least I hope they are – and I hope that they cause all professing Christians as individuals, as families, as churches and as the church, to examine who they are and what they truly believe. Scripture is plain. Our faith is to be rooted in The Word of God. Our beliefs are to be rooted in The Word of God. Our churches are to be rooted in The Word of God. If we believe as leaders or as lay persons that The Word of God does not or will not yield the results that we want, then please forsake it and do not continue to use the power of the name of Jesus to lead people to Hell.