Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15 (NIV).
One of the verses that helps to amplify Paul’s meaning today is listed below (referenced from my Concordia). 1 Corinthians 10:32 says “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God.” This is Paul’s goal in meting out advice to his protégé. “Whatever you do, Timothy, keep these things in mind so that the members of our church of God don’t cause others to struggle in their faith.”
Simply brilliant. Whatever we do as ‘the church’ should be upright, consistent, caring, and loving so that God is increased and we are decreased. We should do these things, as followers of Jesus, to encourage, build, and strengthen the faith of others, especially the faith of those who are weak in it or new to it.
That’s been on my heart a lot lately, even more so during the last days of this political season. I’m guilty of arguing online about my political views, and I have to confess that I don’t think I’ve changed anyone’s mind for the better. There’s great value in standing up for what you believe, both to take that stand and to encourage friends with similar beliefs. Yet in doing that, I confess I’m guilty of saying things that don’t glorify God and sometimes cause other people to stumble (both in their spiritual beliefs and their political ones).
On this election day, I therefore take great comfort in Paul’s advice, his urging to Timothy (and to you and I) to conduct ourselves in ways that show even strangers that we believe in Jesus. The church of the living God acts out of love, even when it, too, takes hard and political incorrect stands. The church of the living God conducts itself in ways that show what we believe about the love of Jesus. We don’t give up our temporal political beliefs because we follow Jesus: we learn ways to do them better.
I haven’t done that very well; have you? I bet I know your answer.
And if that’s true, then Paul is advising us, too, to remember how we should conduct ourselves, especially today. Our political choices, for now, conclude in the ballot box. Our lives as Jesus’ church go on regardless of politics, pop culture, or what the pundits and celebrities think. We’re the church of God walking around in a world hostile to Him. Let’s remember to act like it.
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 10:32, Matthew 16:16, Timothy 3:15
Lord, forgive me for failing You in my words and actions. Encourage me to do better, to be a more faithful follower in Your church. Help me to help others.