Saturday, June 27
Scripture: Amos 1-3, Psalm 80, 2 Timothy 4
2 Timothy 4:2–4 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
Paul tells his protege, young pastor Timothy, that he is to preach the word of God; he is to give people good teaching, sound and wholesome teaching, and correct them when they “follow their own desires and look for teachers who will them whatever their itching ears want to hear.”
I was on a panel this week discussing preaching and politics. One of the panelists, Eugene Cho, shared that a pastor must disciple his/her people in how to think Christianly about politics. Our people are currently being discipled by CNN or FOX or MSNBC or a host of other media. The question is not whether we are being formed, but by whom and into whose image?
It is so important that pastors teach God’s word, good teaching, sound and wholesome teaching. There is so much available that is untrue, partly true or just plain myth. Conspiracy theories abound. And all of us are prone to seek out “whatever our itching ears want to hear.” We each have biases and feed them whatever supports them, and reject whatever challenges them. When you seek out information or a story from one viewpoint, sophisticated algorithms ensure that more info/stories like it will flood your social media. They see what you like and give you more of it—until you’re living in an echo chamber and become the worst version of yourself.
Again, this makes good, sound, wholesome teaching of God’s word all the more important.
One of my favorite Bible teachers was John Stott, a British pastor. In his books and sermons, Stott handles the Scripture with great care and balance. When there is more than one possible interpretation, he lays out the options even-handedly, sharing the strong and weak points of each. Then he graciously explains why he favors one position over the others. His teaching is wise, balanced, gracious and sound. His goal is not to tell us what to think, but to teach us how to think—like a Christian. I can only hope to be that good!
My encouragement (for myself as well as others) is to ground yourself in Scripture. Learn how to think Christianly. And when consuming media, check your sources for accuracy and seek out other perspectives for balance. Let your thinking be shaped by God’s word more than the latest media fads.
Prayer: Lord, help all of our pastors and leaders teach God’s word clearly. And help all of us who listen learn how to think Christianly.