NOTE: Please don’t construe the following story as partisan. All of us – Democrat, Republican and Independent – have much to learn about civility and following The Way of Jesus.
Every Sunday in America
What I’m writing about this morning happens every Sunday, and in thousands of “Christian” churches. And I am, I have to say, dumbfounded as to how far from the Gospel of Love and Light so many of us have strayed…
“LAST DAYS” Here’s the scenario: My parents’ Sunday-school class were studying the New Testament book of Second Timothy. The leader asked everyone to turn to chapter three.
The text talks about how “terrible” things will be in “the last days,” and goes on to describe the characteristics of the times. “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 such people.” (2 Tim 3:1-5)
from Timothy to Titus
AN ANGEL? Several members of the class were asked to read the verses out loud. When it came to my mum, there was some issue with her glasses – so she passed the Bible over to my dad. But, as she passed it, the page must have flipped, so when he read from chapter three he was actually in the Book of Titus. This is what he read:
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone….”
Then (and as if the scripture my dad read had never been spoken) the class began to sound off about the 2 Timothy passage. It was a tidal-wave of terrible, with voice after voice decrying “how bad things are in America,” all supporting the idea that we really and truly are in “the last days.”
DISRESPECT OBAMA: People piled on, my mum said. It was all “unholy” this, “ungrateful” that, “treacherous,” and “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” Plus, every one of these extreme negatives were directed exclusively toward President Obama and the Democrat government. The conversation sounded like one of those hate-spewing emails that tend to get passed around.
This went on for a long time, and with no attempt at moderation from the class leader.
GRACE: Eventually, my mum told me, she raised her hand. “I’ve been listening to all this judgment and harshness and condemnation,” she said. “But what about the scripture that my husband David read by mistake? We can disagree with someone’s politics, but can’t we be respectful?”
And she re-read the passage from Titus:
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone….
The response to her statement, essentially, was dismissive. The leader said something like, “Hmmm…” and then the class picked right back up again with trashing Democrats and spewing disrespect about President Obama.
This is what I’m talking about…
QUESTION? So here’s my question. As Christians, as Followers of the Way of Jesus, how do we represent the Gospel of Love and Light? Is there anything about the way in which we present ourselves that speaks of the Grace, Mercy and Peace that characterize the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit?
Listen to how the passage from Titus continues (and, is there any doubt that it was an angel from God who caused the breeze that turned the page?), right after the admonition to “do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone….”
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared….” DEREK