Last night, during my ritualistic Monday night beat down, as my group as presented our translation of 2 Timothy 4:1-8, I had an epiphany. Let me set the stage a little bit.
We were discussing some of the issues brought to light in the text. At this point in particular we were examining verses 3 and 4. The question that came up is how do you, as a pastoral leader deal with the people turn away from the truth to look towards myths?
My professor, in his translation did not use the word “myths” but “conspiracies.” The conversation turned to those that are drawn to the spectacular: the Dan Brown conspiracies, the self-creating faith of Tolle and Chopra, and inflammatory arguments of the new Atheists. These are the teachers that many are seeking and finding.
So what is our response to not only the teachers, but also the followers? My epiphany was in reading verse 5. We do not counter spectacle with spectacle, but with persistent, tenacious, sober minded truth telling.
I think often the church tries to combat spectacle with spectacle. We, in the church, spend our times trying to create a bigger and better programs and services to counter act the seduction and glamour the world. We create our music to combat their music. We write our books to fight their books. We have our kitsch to combat their kitsch. But I think it might be time to stop fighting.
Instead of trying to match the world tit for tat, lets lay down our arms. They can have the spectacle and start proclaiming the good news- sober mindedly and persistently, fulfilling our service completely.
Those who know me, hear me constantly ranting about “Jesus junk” and the false façade of most Churches/Christians. It bugs me, but I would always give some sort of vague answer as to why and throw in the word “authentic” in there. Looking at Paul’s instruction to Timothy provides me with a solid answer.
We are called to counter myths, conspiracies, and spectacle with substance and our substance is God’s good news: Christ. We don’t meet insubstantiality with insubstantiality but with reality. Persistently, sober mindedly, patiently, and tenaciously- no matter what comes.
Here is this week’s (and perhaps last) last translation:
2 Timothy 4:1-8
(1) In the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, by his appearing and by his kingdom, I insist that you: (2) Proclaim the word! Be persistent in and out of season: convict; rebuke; and encourage with patient instruction.
(3) For a time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine. Because of their own desires, they will gather teachers who say what they want to hear. (4) They will turn from hearing the truth and toward myths. (5) But you should always be sober-minded; enduring suffering; working as a proclaimer of good news; fulfilling your service completely.
(6) I am being poured out like a drink offering and the time of my death is at hand. (7) I have fought well, finished the race, I have kept the faith. (8) Finally, before me is the champion’s wreath which the Lord will award me on that day. He is the righteous judge, not only of me but all those who have ached for his appearance.