Let Us Not be Carried Away
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. "
2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV
It becomes more complicated every day to guard the Lord's flock, to keep believers in the corral of a nourishing and safe pasture. One only has to look around to notice a flourishing of ecclesial realities, dynamic but light, sparkling but frivolous; all accompanied by a progressive and impressive liturgical modernization that is sweeping across Christendom. I am certainly not referring to technology, a valuable handmaiden now almost everywhere, with the prejudicial exceptions that persist in some quarters. Far be it from me to stand as judge of anyone, I remain perplexed at the compromise of accommodating people in venues by accommodating belief, making it more entertaining and/or spectacular, lowering the standards of ethics and morality. I believe this is not just a change in language and style, reflecting social status; nor solely a phenomenon that can be hastily labeled as "new wine" and may go to one's head. In fact, many who say they profess faith are beginning to feel a lull and are looking for a diversion, for celebrations that involve not only emotionally but also bodily.
What happened at the foot of Mount Horeb, in the Exodus 32 account, when Moses delayed descending is emblematic. The impatience of many and their failure to focus on what was happening on the summit prompted the people to Aaron's to ask for a "god" who would be seen and walk (on their shoulders). After imprudently accommodating them, Aaron, the guide appointed in Moses' stead, attempted to give an acceptable facade to what had happened by proclaiming a day of celebration. But the next day " and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." (v. 6b). Is this what we want? To make the encounter with God an occasion for fun, for "wholesome" entertainment? I know I am touching sensitive chords, but like Timothy I desire to have nothing to be ashamed of and, above all, as my mentor taught, to be one "who righteously cuts the word of truth." I remain anchored in Scripture, and since humility always precedes glory, perhaps familiarizing myself with it would help. Etymologically, humility can be traced back to the Latin humus (earth), so humble is one who comes from the earth. Interestingly, the word man is also derived from humus, thus meaning "creature begotten of the earth, humble creature." The humble, that is, the one who does not judge, criticize, boast, despise, exalt himself, or seek his own glory is a dying subject, now out of fashion.
The task of biblical preaching remains the primary means of safeguarding the general spiritual welfare. Only those who are vocated to ministry know how tremendously complicated it is to be at the helm of a community, to uproot and tear down and also to sow and build up. Even more so is it to defend and guard. Only those who are on the front lines know the moments when all motivation fades, passion languishes, and the distraught heart falters. But as it was for Jeremiah, just then we sense in ourselves like a burning fire that enlivens us and enables us to continue. Let us not be attracted by lights and/or special effects, but seek the word preached without any compromise and approved by God. In the nativity story Luke brings the glad tidings primarily to the shepherds in the pasture, telling us that God seeks and reveals himself to the humble, who are invited to the feet of Christ. We run the risk every day of being carried away by the doings of a society that cannot look to the heart, by a world with little moral virtue. We flee from biblical teachings and precepts because we find them inconvenient, not useful to our petty needs. Give us, Lord, to reverse course because happiness is not to rise higher -- above others -- but to serve those in need, as you did, understanding that to be great we must first be and become small. Our goal is to preach the gospel so that more people come to salvation and enter the kingdom of God. Anything that leads us in a different direction is to be avoided. This is the meaning of the exhortation addressed to Timothy, and it should be a warning to every believer.
Weekly Bible Reading Plan #47
November 13, Lamentations 1-2; Hebrews 10:1-18
November 14, Lamentations 3-5; Hebrews 10:19-39
November 15, Ezekiel 1-2; Hebrews 11:1-19
November 16, Ezekiel 3-4; Hebrews 11:20-40
November 17, Ezekiel 5-7; Hebrews 12
November 18, Ezekiel 8-10; Hebrews 13
November 19, Ezekiel 11-13; James 1