Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Three nuggets from I Timothy 4, part I

First things first - read I Timothy chapter 4 (click  here).  A familiar chapter, for sure, but perhaps you haven't read this version before?  I want to highlight three things in my next couple of blog posts that immediately jumped out at me...

1) Freedom in Christ.  One of the hot topics of the early church was regarding these laws about what they could and couldn't eat.  Then in the book of Acts we read about Peter's vision with the food coming down from heaven and the voice telling him to eat.  The point?  Well in that case, there were two points; 1) all food is made holy by God and is ok for eating and 2) the gospel of Christ was not just for Jews, but for all the world, Gentiles as well.  Here we read in Timothy that they're still dealing with this issue of freedom.  Paul warns Timothy not to sucumb to the pressures of the "false teachers" (or "liars") but to stay true to sound teaching.

All of this made me stop and think and ask, what are the issues that we face today?  What are the things that the "false teachers" of our time are trying to get us to do (or not to do)?

We started a sermon series through the book of Habakkuk and one of the themes from the first part of this book is this idea of letter of the law vs spirit of the law; or, put another way, focusing and enforcing the minor points of the law while ignoring the more important major points of mercy and justice.  The law always points to justice.  "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" the Lord says (Hosea 6:6).

Now tie this idea back to this chunk of I Timothy 4, and it makes me wonder, how many times in my life have I focused on the proper "truth" or understanding or theological point, while ignoring the weightier issues of justice and mercy?  Loving the poor, sharing the gospel, reaching out to those in need?  This is where my conviction lies; not that understanding, theology and doctrine are not important...they are.  However, even more important is what I do with that...the application of my knowledge.  In other words, as Pastor Dave once put it, my "orthopraxy."

The greatest challenge remains for us; as a disciple of Christ, we are to follow His lead.  Go therefore, and do likewise...

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