2 Timothy 3:12-13 – In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (NIV)
I cannot honestly read Paul's second letter to Timothy without reflecting on how his words are relevant for today. The great apostle was forewarning his protégé that things would get a lot worse before they became better. He was telling Timothy that trying to live a godly life as a Christian would make him a target for harassment, criticism, and persecution. In fact, within a couple of years of writing this letter, Christians across the Roman Empire would be hunted down and killed for their faith in Jesus. Paul's epistle, then, was a serious word of caution, informing Timothy to be prepared for the troubled times ahead.
Being a Christian has never been easy, especially when believers speak out against injustice, violence, and wickedness. They are criticized for being political instead of spiritual or castigated as being subversive and disloyal. Their voices of dissent are demeaned or silenced, especially in nations where powerful regimes suppress civil rights and limit personal liberty. When Christian leaders lend their support to social justice movements, they are pilloried for their passion and sometimes convicted for their beliefs. The words from Paul, which were written more than 1900 years ago, are highly relevant in our world today, especially when people are blinded by their own prejudices and paralyzed by their own inadequacies or fears.
So, how do we know when to stand up and speak out against injustice or oppression? I think that Paul gives us the answer to this question in his final words in the same chapter:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV)
In other words, we need to honestly ask ourselves if our beliefs are scripturally based or just individual notions that we've personally attached to our faith for our own convenience. Scripture is a great litmus test of whether or not we are being indifferent, insensitive, or prejudiced. Believe me, I need this godly check of my own ideas on a regular basis, too.
Point to ponder: Think about some current news or controversial event. Ask yourself, "What is God needing me to see and understand here?"
Prayer: Lord Jesus, Your ministry was radical, and Your mission created a lot of turbulence because You were honest, faithful, and fearless. Help us to see the world through Your eyes, and grant us the courage to face our fears and overcome our prejudices. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "O Lord Of Heav'n And Earth And Sea" (Lyrics)