Scripture Reflections @ CEC (9/14/20)
“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true Word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him.”
C. S. Lewis
Scripture & Devotion: Scriptural focus: 2 Timothy 1:7-9
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace…
A spirit of power
These days, as the 2020 presidential election draws increasingly near, I find myself inundated with a daily flow of information in the form of television news broadcasts, political ads, and propaganda from all sides that arrives on my doorstep, in my mailbox, or is sent to me via email by well-meaning and passionate friends and family. Although most of this media contains powerful endorsements from those who believe without reservation the ideas they present, much of it is conflicting, and the truth is sometimes hard to ferret out.
Interestingly, there is very little in this material that asks me to consider how the political agendas of those in positions of national leadership (or those who are attempting to attain those positions) dovetail with God’s principles as found in scripture. I have to remind myself to look beyond all the hype to the substance; however, I sometimes hesitate to encourage others to do the same. Although writing about such things comes fairly naturally to me, I am reluctant to express these ideas verbally, especially if what I have to say conflicts with what others around me are saying. It isn’t that I am ashamed of my faith; on the contrary. But I do worry that the things I say might be misunderstood or come off as judgmental and have the unintended effect of pushing people farther away from God. It is hard to relinquish this misplaced sense of personal responsibility, entrust the outcome to God, and not worry about how what I say will be interpreted. I wish sometimes that Paul’s words “ For God did not give us a spirit of timidity…” would echo in my ears when I am in most need of them.
Paul’s letters to Timothy contain a great many ideas and much advice about leadership. He comments extensively about the personal and public qualities that make an effective leader, the priorities of leadership aligned with God’s purposes, and the consequences of focusing on the wrong things, even for reasons that seem like the right ones at the time. In the coming months leading to November, I am going to be doing a lot of “scripture searching” before marking my ballot, and I hope my brothers and sisters in Christ will do the same.
God has saved us and called us to a holy life. This simple sentence sums up the entirety of the Christian religion. He has our best interests at heart, not because we deserve it, but because of who he is, our Creator and our Heavenly Father. I believe this is what Paul means when he refers to God’s “purpose and grace.” When he wrote about suffering for the gospel, Paul was in prison awaiting execution. Any “suffering” I might do pales in comparison. If it means that someone may not agree with what I am saying when I express what I know to be God’s truth, then I must learn to accept that. I need to work on banishing the “spirit of timidity” that keeps me from expressing the power of God’s love and the wisdom of his teachings. The world (and our country) needs these things now more than ever.
You know our struggles, our fears, our reluctance to speak out for so many reasons. Please continue to teach us to trust in You as You show us how to love You and love people, even when it means being misunderstood. May any misunderstanding be a question of how we could be so loving instead of how could we be so judging.