So today is the day for people to start making their new years resolutions and express their hopes for the upcoming new year. 2012 was a pretty crazy year all things considered and I’m sure everyone has moments that they celebrate as well as moments that they wish they could erase. I have plenty of hopes and fears for this upcoming year, but as I look forward to the year to come and what it might hold for me my New Years wish, my hope for 2013, can reflected in the advice Paul gave Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:3-7.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
– 1 Timothy 1:3-7
In case you didn’t catch it, my New Years wish for 2013 is that we as the body of Christ will learn to avoid “meaningless talk.” The popular saying “talk is cheap” rings true in this day and age, and it seems to me like we prefer to talk a lot more than we like to act. We live in an age of information, where opinions travel twice the speed of facts. People are quick to speak and slow to think. Everyone has to have an opinion in this day and age and people are so quick to add their own opinion to the endlessly growing pool of information out there. I think James had some sound advice in this matter:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
– James 1:9-10
Oh how I wish some people had acted like this during the many tragedies we faced this year. Instead so many people had to throw their opinions in. Everyone had to blame someone and in the wake of the blame game the voices of those affected were often drowned out by Pastors, Politicians, and Pundits who were more focused on condemning someone or something than they were lending a hand.
Words carry weight and we need to learn how to use ours more effectively and productively. Let’s get back to 1 Timothy and the sound advice that Paul gave. In verse 3 Paul states that we should be charging some so that they teach no other doctrine. Paul made it clear that the church is supposed to be preaching the doctrine of Christ and no other. I’m not going to use this opportunity to call out all my least favorite preachers, but we do need to be paying attention to what is coming out of the Church.
A lot of the time the words that the Church is exporting are not words that we would see Christ using. We need to do a better job of watching ourselves in 2013, and making sure that the love of Christ is shining through. Let’s start speaking like we actually believe that God loves every person on this planet dearly and that we believe repentance forgiveness, and redemption are truly open to all who are willing to reach out and grasp it. Let’s try to make 2013 the year where we are know more for what we stand for (love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, kindness, generosity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control) and less about what we stand against (you can fill in the blank on this one). Let is be seen in 2013 as being more pro-Christ in 2013 than anti-____.
In 1 Timothy verse 4 Paul instructs Timothy to focus more on what is edifying and powered by faith than to get lost in endless fables and genealogies. I think this is a message that a lot of people need to hear today because I feel like an unseemly amount of time and energy is spent every year trying to argue about the literal vs. figurative creation, or the pre, post, or a-millennial view of Revelation, or the eternal hell vs. the annihilating hell, vs the non-existence of hell, or any number of pointless topics. I’m not trying to dismiss anyone who is trying to better understand the Bible and develop a better Biblical world view, but let’s get real for a moment… are any of these things furthering the Kingdom of God? If you can confidently answer “yes” then carry on, but I tend to see these as meaningless, time wasting, and division causing. I have never heard of someone coming to Christ as a result of a well thought out argument for the local vs global Noahic flood.
Rather than wasting countless hours to developing a perfect understanding of a menial detail in scripture let’s do what Paul argues, and focus more so on developing a love that springs from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith. These things are not found through air tight exegesis and a PhD level understanding of hermeneutics, but from an understanding of the simple Gospel of Christ and a willingness to let God change you and work in your life.
If you want to be a great teacher of the faith then learn to love as Christ loved. You don’t need to be able to talk the theological talk or debate like St. Augustine of Hippo. Christ used simple fishermen and uneducated laborers to spread his Gospel to the world. Let’s flee from meaningless talk and pointless debates and start spending more time loving others. Let’s learn to listen rather than blurt out our opinions. Let’s learn to stop playing the blame game all the time, and start focusing on bringing people to the Lord with love and kindness. Let’s be for something for once instead of being against everything.
Happy 2013 everyone, let’s make it a good one!