Monday, February 25, 2013

No Cop Outs (1 Timothy 6:1,2)

What is endlessly fascinating to me about the passages like this in the Bible is the way they demonstrate the audacious nature of faith. Contrary to what many superficial readings may say, this passage does not endorse the concept of slavery. The Biblical message in its entirety does not allow for slavery. In fact, it is Biblical ethical teaching that has moved human culture away from slavery. However, this passage and others like it dare to look at what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the real world. If your reality includes injustices like slavery, what do you do?

In today’s world, people following Jesus have slowly but determinedly changed the world so much that we can no longer truly appreciate the context of this passage; but we do still have evil and injustice in the world. And to some degree, we are called to follow Jesus in the context of living in the world the way it is. We do not get to be Pollyannaish. Most importantly, we do not get to stop doing what is right by pointing to other’s wrongs.

We don’t like this message today. We want to point to other people’s financial dishonesty or excesses to justify doing things that we know are not up to the standard of Jesus. We want to justify violence and excess of force, even to the point of torture and killing, just because those against us hold to that lower standard. We invent all sorts of justifications for not doing what God asks of us by comparing ourselves to other sinners. The problem is that we should have our eyes on—we should be comparing ourselves to—the higher standard of Jesus.

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