Our Lectio Divina for today:
Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people. 2nd Timothy 3: 1-5 (MsgB)
Do not enter this next section of our blog series if you have a weak stomach, a timid heart, become nauseated at the sight of sin, or find yourself a bit woozy when thinking about pain or suffering.
You see, for those of us who are called by the Master to keep on keepin’ on with God’s kalós, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry, it’s important to know that your job, or mine, is not going to be an easy one in the days ahead. As a matter of fact, if you believe this work of serving Christ, taking the Good News of the Gospel into a broken and sin-sick world, is a piece of cake, I’m guessing you’re either a lay person who’s never done much in the way of ministry beyond pew-sitting, or maybe you’re still in seminary, looking at the pastoral ministry through rose-colored glasses!
As Paul so rightly states it in today’s passage: Don’t be naïve, dummy, this work of serving Christ is not for wimps! And what makes it doubly sobering here is that Paul goes on to say that our troubles have just begun!
Keep in mind that is the same guy who has already experienced his share of trials, sufferings, troubles, hardships, imprisonment, ship-wrecks, beatings, and other assorted persecutions as he traveled for the cause of Christ!
Just look at the fun stuff Paul lists for us here, awaiting you and me, as pastoral shepherds in the coming days:
Hunger for money
Contemptuousness toward parents
Addiction to lust
Allergies toward God
Let’s be honest. These gut-wrenching qualities are all common to the human condition, regardless of the century we live in. These fleshly troubles have been with us from the very beginning, but if Paul is right, these ugly sins will not only increase in the secular world, but within the church as well as we get ever closer to the end of days. The reason I can say this? Look at the final item on Paul’s shopping list:
Making a show of religion, but behind the scenes: animals.
As I see it, it’s important for us to take note of Paul’s warnings. Yes, the world will continue to go to hell in a hand-basket in the coming days, and yes, doing the work of Jesus, guarding the kalós, this precious treasure, will meet with continued resistance as we go in His name.
But here’s a suggestion for us. How about if we stop the way so many of us self-righteous, holier-than-thou Christian leaders take this shopping list of sins and point our judging fingers at those dirty, rotten sinners out there in the world, accusing them of, quite honestly, the same self-centeredness and sinfulness we struggle with in our own hearts?
Maybe it’s time, during these troubled times in which we live, to start our house-cleaning at home? How about if you and I, as pastoral shepherds, start today with a bit of healthy self-examination, looking inwardly at our own hearts, our own motives, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal and remove those smudges of unsightly human crud on the windows of our soul? Then, once we begin finding ourselves freer from these fleshly traits, maybe we can humbly come alongside others in our congregations, encouraging one other in this pursuit of righteousness for the greater glory of God?
Are we headed for tough times?
Yes, without a doubt.
So how about if you and I walk through these difficult days, not with a heady, self-righteousness that portrays a confidence composed from our human pride, but with a Christ-centered humility and brokenness that speaks to the amazing grace of our Lord and Savior, who died for all of us, sinners and saints, alike?
More on this next time, as we keepers of the kalós navigate through these troubled times.
My prayer: Jesus, it’s so easy for me, as a pastor, to look at Paul’s shopping list of sins and think to myself that these are enemies coming at me from the lost and dying world around me. Yet, in truth, these are fleshly enemies deep within me that need to be dealt with long before I attempt to go out and help others. Holy Spirit, give me the strength and inner fortitude to examine myself thoroughly and honestly so that in the days ahead, during these troubled times, I’m leaning ever increasingly on Your strength and not my own. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: As I peruse Paul’s ugly list of sinful conditions, which one, or ones, are standing out for me today? Where are the seeds of self-consumption and sinful activity trying to hide inside me and how might I best invite Jesus, the rescuing and redeeming King, into this darkness, asking Him to deliver me from evil?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you guard the kalós, the precious treasure of pastoral ministry, in your life?
In this 26-session blog series, Kalós: Guarding the Precious Treasure, we explore the kalós*, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that has been deposited into us by the work of the Holy Spirit. We invite you to come along with us, bookmarking this blog’s home page for easy, on-going referencing.
As you go through this blog series, we also suggest that you use the ancient tool of Lectio Divina as you approach each scriptural text we give you in this blog. Lectio Divina is a slow, intentional reading of the Holy Scriptures. Take your time as you ponder the text slowly, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word for you as you read. Ask the Master as you read, “Jesus, what in this passage do I need to hear today?”
*So, what is kalós?
Kalós comes from a New Testament Greek word which simply means “good.” The apostle Paul, when writing to his young apprentice, Timothy, decided to combine this common adjective, kalós, with a second Greek word, parathéké, a noun which means a deposit or trust committed to one’s charge. As a result, the apostle ends up with one, very powerful phrase! A command that both Timothy, and you and I, truly need to take note of as we continue this ancient work of serving Christ and His Church! “Guard this kalós (this good work, this beautiful deposit, this precious treasure) placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” 2nd Timothy 1: 14