Scripture Reflections @ CEC (9/10/20)
If you really wanna be a rebel, read your Bible.
Scripture & Devotion: Scriptural focus: 2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
What not to be
What a heavy passage of scripture this is! In it, Paul is attempting to describe the “last days”, which many Biblical scholars believe refers to the entire period of time between the days immediately following the resurrection of Jesus (or when the Holy Spirit descended on the believers at Pentecost) and Christ’s second coming at some point in the future. Its characteristics mentioned here are frightening, and yet, if we examine this list closely, we see that many attitudes and behaviors described here already exist in our modern society. Paul implies, therefore, that we are already living in the “last days,” although no one knows when they will end.
It is tempting to give in to despair after reading such a list; it’s depressing. It makes us want to curl up into a ball and hide from everyone and everything until it’s all over. And yet, what if we turned this litany of what-not-to-be on its head and looked at it a different way, replacing the negative terms with their opposites in order to discover the traits and attitudes that God would have us develop and live by? It might read something like this: “God wants us to be unselfish, loving other people instead of money, humble, submissive, kind, obedient, grateful, reverent, loving, forgiving, truthful, self-controlled, gentle, lovers of what is good, loyal, patient, unpretentious, devoted to him, living according to his guidelines and in recognition of his power.” Gives quite another outlook to this passage, doesn’t it?
In order to cultivate such attributes, it is necessary to do what Paul advises in the last line of this passage: stay away from situations and people that would encourage us to develop the kinds of characteristics that God despises. He uses an imperative verb, a strong command: “ Have nothing to do with them.” Paul’s warning is an acknowledgement that we sometimes overestimate our ability to resist temptation, allowing ourselves to adopt the behaviors and attitudes of our culture or of those with whom we associate, whether or not they are following a godly path. Just as a recovering alcoholic knows how dangerous it would be to enter a bar, or someone attempting to break a gambling addiction understands that the casino is not an appropriate place for him or her to be, we must avoid putting ourselves in harm’s way and instead surround ourselves with influences that God would favor.
Perhaps the end to these “last days” is closer than we realize. Perhaps it is still some time away. The point is, if we strive to live according to the guidelines given in God’s word, we need not be concerned with the specifics of God’s timing. It will come to pass when he wills it so. There is a passage in Shakespeare’s Hamlet when the young prince, contemplating the nature of his own mortality, comes to the conclusion that everything happens according to God’s provident timing, and that we need have no fear in our last days. He famously says, “If it be not now, yet it will come - the readiness is all.” I believe that this is what Paul wants us to know; endeavoring to live a godly life will keep us safe in an eternal sense, no matter what kinds of earthy times we face.
Thank You for being our Rock and our Redeemer, the One we can rely on no matter what is going on around us.