October 11

2 Timothy 2:14-15

“Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening.” vs. 14

The letters of First and Second Timothy, together with Titus, are often known as pastoral epistles because they address concerns being experienced by the leaders of the early Christian community. The gospel as preached by Paul and others had  spread rapidly and congregations had formed in most of the cities of the eastern Mediterranean. Jesus had left no organizational system and there were no synods or regions–and there certainly wasn’t a single unifying creed or liturgy. Guided by the Spirit folks were operating according to local customs and some basic unifying traditions. A lot of the time they were just making stuff up! As a consequence in some places there was a ton of confusion and disorder. Charismatic leaders were boldly moving in a variety of directions and sometimes the gospel message was being obscured or lost altogether. Evidently some were expert at wordsmithing and loved to fight about language and words. Some of us can easily relate! We’ve been at synodical assemblies or congregational meetings and been witness to the wrangling that can go on. It would be comical if it weren’t so destructive to many of those who listen. Obviously decisions need to be made by communities of faith. But how sad it is when the debates become acrimonious and divisive. In such a setting the good news is distorted and our mission grinds to a halt.

Thought for the Day: Where have I observed “wrangling over words” in the church?

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