Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Quest (1 Timothy 6:11-15)

“You are a man of God. Your quest is for justice, godliness, faithfulness, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith! Cling to the eternal life you were called to when you confessed the good confession before witnesses.  Before God—the life-giving Creator of all things—and Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, who made the good confession to Pontius Pilate, I urge you:  keep His commandment. Have a spotless, indisputable record until our Lord Jesus the Anointed appears to set this world straight. In His own perfect time, He will come…” (1 Timothy 6:11-15a)

I’ll be honest: sometimes, when I read the Bible, I get tired. 

Why? Because I know what a good quest looks like. I am familiar with Lord of the Rings. I’ve seen Indiana Jones,The Princess Bride and Guardians of the Galaxy; I’ve read about King Arthur’s search for the Holy Grail and Ulysses' odyssey to get back home. I know about the pursuit of Superbowl rings and even that little bird in the kid’s stories who just wants to find his mother.

That's why I get tired. I know what a quest is.

When we find a cause we believe is worthy of their time, energy and emotion, we will give our life. Sometimes it’s subconscious – we just end up giving our time, energy and emotion to something we have by default decided is important.  It could be people, or relationships, or family, or a job, or food or entertainment.  It could be a conscious choice: the environment,  healthy living, injustice, poverty, a particular person.

When the cause is noble, just, and good, we applaud those who fight no matter the cost. We admire William Wilberforce and Mother Theresa – and our friends who fight to become better people so that they don’t implode and take others down with them. It might cost them time, money, and comfort, but we encourage them because the cost is nothing compared with the quest.

When the cause is lousy, we cringe at what great cost is being spent on such an unworthy goal.  Just watch an episode of the Bachelor or Jersey Shore or Honey Boo Boo and tell me if you don’t just want to weep for the lives that are being wasted.

The Bible says that, if we are not careful, our quest can destroy us.  Money. Fame. Comfort. Beauty. Toys. Sex. Power. We could gain the whole world and lose our soul. But there are good quests, too, like those aimed toward justice, godliness, faithfulness, love, perseverance, and gentleness.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Godliness With Contentment (1 Timothy 6:3-10)

I saw a cartoon this week where a guy turns to his friend and says, “Do you think Jesus died so we could lead a more comfortable life, Like being a disciple of Jesus is really about being nice and succeeding in life? Like God just wants us to be happy, wealthy, and healthy?”  It’s a good question. What’s the end game in Christianity? What’s the point? What kind of life should we expect as followers of Christ? What does God ultimately want for us? We find an insightful answer in Paul’s letter to Timothy.
Timothy, teach these instructions, and appeal to those under your ministry to live by them. If others are teaching otherwise and bringing unhealthy conversations to the community, if they are not sticking to the sound words in the teaching of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, if they are not teaching godly principles —  then they are swollen with conceit, filled with self-importance, and without any proper understanding.  
They probably have a gross infatuation with controversy and will endlessly debate meanings of words. That kind of talk leads to envy, discord, slander, and evil mistrust;  and these people constantly bicker because they are depraved in their minds and bereft of the truth. They think somehow that godliness is the way to get ahead financially.  
This is ironic because godliness, along with contentment, is great gain - it gives us great wealth but not in the ways some imagine. You see we came into this world with nothing, and nothing is going with us on the way out!  So as long as we are clothed and fed, we should be happy. 
But those who chase riches are constantly falling into temptation and snares. They are regularly caught by their own stupid and harmful desires, dragged down and pulled under into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money—and what it can buy—is the root of all sorts of evil. Some already have wandered away from the true faith because they craved what it had to offer; but when reaching for the prize, they found their hands and hearts pierced with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:3-10)
Our culture tells its own story about what the end game of life is. It’s apparently a lot of money, an exciting sex life, a desirable body, a huge reputation, great vacations. Only then do you have the good life. And there is something alluring about that, right? Who wouldn’t want those things? Anybody craving to be poor or unnoticed? Anybody planning to get married thinking, “I hope our sex life just falls apart”? Anybody hoping to vacation close to my house in Grawn instead of in France? 

It’s not those things that are bad. Of course we are drawn to them. Sex, money, health, freedom, and a good reputation are not bad things. It’s the degree to which we love them and desire them that can trip us up. Because of sin, our culture takes good things and distorts them or misuses them. It’s the trickiest kind of temptation. It’s not money, it’s the love of money. It’s not things, it’s the love of things. It’s not sex or health or comfort, it’s the love, the craving, the belief that those things are the point of life.