Last night, I heard a great message that opened with a word about consumerism. In short, consumerism is so engrained in our society that people commodify even the church. I cannot agree more. The sad part is that the church is also guilty in that it puts itself out for sale. The church, then, is not a part of the solution, as it abets the problem. In the end, within this framework, the church is not able to fulfill much of its mission; it cannot speak the truth in love. Why? The consumer is always right.
All of this should not really surprise us. Paul anticipates this two thousand years ago. Paul says to Timothy these words, which appears as if they were written yesterday.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season: reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but have itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit they own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:1-5)
Paul makes it abundantly clear that in the last days people will shop for teachers to justify their own tastes and passions. For this reason, he exhorts Timothy to teach in all seasons – who knows when God will open hearts, to reprove when necessary, and to endure all hardships with great perseverance. Hard work and endurance is the high calling of Timothy and all Christians (especially leaders).
The applications to today’s culture are tremendous. First, for leaders, they need to learn to fear the Lord, so that they will not ultimately fear man. If the fear of man is central, then leaders will never be able to be complete servants of God. They will not be able to teach, reprove and correct, or even love the way God loves. We need to keep in mind that God’s love is transformative and seeks to change people.
Second, churchgoers should check their hearts. These are some questions to ask: “Am I teachable to what God’s word has to say? What has God been teaching me, especially things that go against my assumptions? Do I view the church as a product to consume, or do I see it as the body of Christ to love and serve? When I attend church is my mind mostly on how I feel, or do I consider the needs of others?” By asking some of these questions, we might be able to break through the cultural idols of consumerism.
Finally, I love how this chapter ends. Paul encourages us by giving a perspective of his own life. He has fought the good fight and finished the race. (2 Tim. 4:7). He has made it to the end. He also gives us his secret: “The Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed…The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.” (4:17-18) In light of this, I appeal to churchgoers – love the church and serve it. Know that when things are hard it is time to commit more (lest you fall away – just think of Demas) and to have teachable hearts.Tags: 2 timothy, consummerism