READ: 2Timothy 3
BACKGROUND: Paul wrote this letter to Timothy from a cold, dark prison cell when he was very near the end of his life, and he provided Timothy with wisdom for leading the church. This chapter, specifically, deals with the wickedness of the times and how to combat it. It is nearly impossible for me to read the beginning section of 2Timothy 3 without drawing a number of powerful parallels to 21st Century America.
1 – “The last days” is usually used to refer to the period between the 1st and 2nd comings of Christ. That is the period we are living in right now, and the description Paul gives in the next few verses fits us incredibly well!
5 – This is a powerful verse, and a powerful accusation by Paul. He’s saying that there are a lot of people who go through the motions of faith, of religiosity, but don’t allow the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to transform the core of their beings. We may say we have faith, but if we don’t walk out the door and live it and let it define our being and transform our souls into the image of Christ then not only do we not have the salvation we think we do, but also we set a terrible example to the world. We live in a way that makes them think Christianity is just about going through all the rituals of religion (which seems oppressive to them) and not at all about anything deeper or anything more (which they might actually want). A LOT of American “Christians” are living this way.
8 – These guys aren’t mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament, but tradition says they were the court magicians of Pharaoh who opposed Moses when he went before Pharaoh to seek the freedom of the people of Israel.
12 – A sobering reality. But a true one. It isn’t always – or ever – going to be easy to live out the radical faith that God is calling us to in the midst of a broken world.
15 – This is the answer to the all the problems Paul has been describing! Following God’s word! It allows us to shine like lights in the darkness, to have the transforming power of the Holy Spirit working in us, to reach out to others, and to make a difference.
16 – Every word in the Bible is given by God, through human authors, for our benefit and it is without any error whatsoever. Following it allows us to experience the fullness of who God calls us to be.
THINK: I picked this passage today because I just heard a song that I want you all to listen to. I’m sure that you have varying degrees of appreciation for rap music, but a rapper named Flame, in just under 3 minutes, presents one of the most cohesive and concise and, frankly, terrific explanations of what the Bible is and why we should rely on it that I’ve ever heard. Here is the song (with lyrics).
The Bible is God’s perfect communication, given to us as a gift. If we want to stand firm in the midst of these evil times, and if we want to actually make a difference in the lives of other people (who, make no mistake, are lost and hurting and headed for eternity without God in Hell) then we need to do more than just go through the motions of faith. We need to do more than just privately claim to believe and read devotions and study the Bible. We need to walk out into our world and live it!
ASK: What is one part of the Bible that I know I’m not living out the way that I should right now? What is keeping me from doing that?