March 26, 2021
1 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:1-4 NIV)
We are easily distracted. In Paul’s day the distraction came in the form of men who claimed to be apostles. They validated their claim with eloquent speaking ability that listeners paid to hear. Today, the number of distractions is hard to number. There are over 570 million blogs to choose from. If you prefer listening to reading, there are almost 2 million podcasts available. If you prefer to watch you can find over 3 billion videos available on YouTube. These statistics do not begin to capture the amount of information available if you include all the various social media platforms. Paul warns Timothy about what is coming:
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NIV)
The time has come. With all the choices we have for information it is easy to find an acknowledged authority who will tell us what we want to hear. God’s desire for us is that we have an exclusive relationship with Him that is more important to us than anything else in our lives. His desire is that we hear and respond to His voice especially when it makes us uncomfortable and encourages us to change. As we increase the number of inputs we are paying attention to the less likely it is that we will respond to any one of them.
I must please plead guilty. Counting the Bible, I am currently reading four different books. I regularly listen to half a dozen different podcasts, several of which are Sunday sermons. As I am processing Paul’s words I am challenged to focus more and go deeper rather than broader. While writing this I received another invitation to join an email list for a new blog. It looked fascinating, but I am convinced I need to be deleting blogs rather than adding new ones.
It did not take long for false teaching to enter the church. It would be naïve to think that after 2000 years the false teaching has been eliminated. We are uncomfortable with the many paradoxes in scripture, so we develop answers that eliminate the paradoxes. The inevitable result is a smaller god that we can understand and control. Rather than understanding ourselves as created in the image of God we too easily prefer a god created in our image. This is not the god for me. I want a God that is bigger than my imagination and powerful beyond any possibility of my control. I hope you do too.