Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sunday Devotional - Re-emerging

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (NIV)

It’s a hard time to be a Presbyterian right now, because our mainline denominations are failing. It’s as if we've reached the end of the line and that after 400 years of Reformed Faith, people no longer want to hear the doctrines of predestination, total depravity, or the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Instead, people want to make up their own brand of faith, something that will suit their life-style choices, which will not interfere with their decisions or make any judgments about the way they live their lives. What people want out of religion is something that will guarantee immortality at the end of their earthly lives, without any catches, conditions, or commandments to disbar them. It’s a bit like being in someone’s garden and wanting to steal apples from their tree without there being any consequences. It’s the same old sin of Adam and Eve – wanting to be immortal like God and trying to steal it from Him.

I'm not perfect, even although I'm a pastor. I've sinned many times against God and let Christ down time and time again. Each day I always say or do something that I'll regret later on, or I forget to do something and break a promise. Time just seems to consume me and I'm left wondering if I'm making any difference in the world that I know.

My role is to counter the culture that is choking the Christian faith. My call as a pastor is to help the people I know get past the sickness that is killing our society. My place is to be a prophet who preaches against the ways of the world that are leading people astray from Christ. At times, I feel like I'm chosen to be the Shepherd’s collie dog, snapping at the feet of the sheep in order to keep them in the fold and out of danger.

And then I read Paul’s letter to Timothy and I realize that the church has seen times like these before. When Timothy became a bishop to his people, he had to deal with the world; he had to preach against secularism; he had to keep people on the right track in order to get them home to Jesus. The people in Timothy’s time were itching to hear what they wanted to hear…and people are still the same today. Things may look different, but people are still the same – they want short cuts to salvation; they want the express lane to immortality; they want to cut in ahead of everybody else to get Christ’s blessings.

It’s hard being a Presbyterian these days, but it’s not harder than what Timothy’s people had to endure. It’s not harder than what pastors in China are suffering; it’s not harder than what Christian families in Nigeria are enduring; it’s not harder than what millions of Christians around the world have to overcome for the faith each day. And because of that, I've got to start drawing a line in the sand and say this day, we retreat no further. We will not quietly acquiesce to the world’s demands. We will not fade away into faithlessness. We will not continue to compromise our Reformed beliefs, our Calvinistic codes, our Presbyterian traditions.

It’s time to re-emerge. It’s time to revive. It’s time to reform. The itching has gone on long enough. It’s time to stop scratching and start fighting the good fight.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, our Presbyterian church is in a mess and people like me have caused it to be so. Instead of waiting and watching for Your return, I've been wallowing in sin and at ease in Zion. Forgive me, Lord, for all of those wasted years and sinful moments. Restore me, Lord, to the love and zeal that I once had for You alone. Help me, Lord, to climb out of this religious rut and back on to the highway to Heaven. In Your Holy Name, I pray. Amen.

Stushie writes the Daily Devotional "Heaven's Higway" and draws a weekday politcal cartoon blog called "Pushing the Envelope."


Keith said...

You talked about shortcuts to salvation in your post, and that reminds me of something that my Bible study class discussed the other night as we were studying Exodus...In particular, there was a verse that indicated that God re-routed his people into the wilderness rather than go through the land of the Philistines...which to me implies that God didn't want them to take the short cut, and for good reason so as not to discourage them with war.

Anyway, your mentioning of "shortcuts" made me think of that.

Keep up the good work,

Stushie said...

Thanks keith. That's a good image and passage to remember.