“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine . . . and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 This week’s assault on Facebook is 2 Timothy 4:3-4, with assorted memes and photos (one is a shot of the verse, in situ, […]
I have spent a goodly portion of my life working past, and through, an impatient, calloused, uncaring, indifferent, and unlikable God, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only spiritual seeker with this issue. The Querulous God is regularly taught through inane one-liners such as,
“You must have a strong enough faith before God will listen to you,”
“God is getting you out of your comfort zone,”
“This pain in your life is inflicted by God, because He loves you so much that He wants you to turn to Him.”
So it was with extreme irritation that I read, the other day, an “inspirational message” by the adult child of a well-known Christian Celebrity Figurehead. Like many adult children of famous people, this person has landed in a sweet spot, with books being published, speaking engagements filled, and a “ministry” corporation funded largely on the basis of the parent’s famous name and pocketbook.
Not a Family Dynasty
It’s as if Christianity runs in the family, kind of like royal blood, or inherited money. (If you believe that, follow the line of King David and see how quickly it degenerates.)
Back to the “inspirational message” which, in addition to being depressing by corroborating the misconception that God’s ways are so at variance with, and unsympathetic to, our deepest yearnings of the soul, was also theologically “off,” stretching Scripture to the point that the verse must have pulled a tendon in the process.
How do I know? What right do I have to critique?
Well, I strive to be a Berean, a people described in Acts 17:11 as being “of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
This is something all Christians are called to be, but we forget this in a society that relies upon experts, teachers, leaders, politicos, economists, scientists, seminar speakers, and pastors to tell us what we believe, and why. So cowed are we by credentials, that when we don’t have them, we readily acquiesce to the one who does — even when we don’t agree with him. He must be right, because he has a PhD.
“Americans are the only people in the world known to me whose status anxiety prompts them to advertise their college and university affiliations in the rear window of their automobiles,” observed Paul Fussell, a 20th-century historian and author whom I discovered in the phone book yellow pages (the quotes and jokes interspersed throughout make the price of the book worth it).
Falling for Man’s Accolades
He’s right, you know, but if we limited our insecurity to institutional degrees, this would fortunately limit our foolishness as well. But as Christians, we lavish our attention, deference, allegiance, and all too often, money, on people who accept it on no more basis than that they speak well, look good before the camera, are amply funded to be put there, and too frequently, adroitly ply the name and connections of their literal fathers (the teachings of whom we unquestioningly accept as well) to command our subjection to their position.
The Apostle Paul, who on more than one occasion expressed frustration with immature believers’ tendency to follow without discretion, says in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4:
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
“For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
The problem is, we’re a long away from the preaching of Paul, and from the beginning, many of us are preached a Jesus different from the one he preached: we labor to please a detached, disinterested Jesus, who will offer His love, conditionally, as long as we prove our own love to Him first.
More than one believer, however, has bowed before Christ because of the initial message that is thrown out, but quickly pulled back:
The True Gospel Message
“God is real. God is all powerful. And God loves you.”
Now that’s a message worth following, and it more closely aligns with what we find in the Gospels and the apostles’ writings. The problem is, once we believe it (who wouldn’t long for this?), we’re plugged into a system that starts adding rules:
Go to church. Give your tithes. Attend small groups. Read your Bible — under supervision. Obey those in authority over you.
Love, acceptance, grace, mercy, and peace quickly flee from this environment. But the ones who should flee are us, from the rules of man into the arms of God, but we don’t because the prominent voices — many of them the self-appointed spokespeople for Christianity (they’re easy to spot: they meet with world leaders, genuflect before the Pope, and tickle our ears with the things we want to hear — 2 Timothy 4:3) — have grabbed onto our spirituality, and our souls.
This would not happen if Christians made it a goal to read, and understand, the Bible for themselves, so that, instead of needing someone, constantly, to teach them elementary truths long after they should be teachers themselves (Hebrews 5:12), they would be using their teeth, and chewing:
“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)
Wean yourself off of pop-culture Christianity, simplistic (and frequently Spiritually fallacious) material and messages that do not drive you directly into the Bible, where the ultimate truth lies. You don’t need a human being to decode the Bible for you, you need a strong, firm relationship with the One the Book is written about.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity where I am constantly encouraging individual Christians to strengthen their walk with Christ, and get on a spiritual Paleo diet consisting of a lot of meat.
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