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introduction: false gods & false gospels

Brace yourself. This particular post is more serious than just about anything I’ve ever written (sans the thesis that shall not me named). Typically, I try to tackle heavy topics with a lighthearted approach, but not this time. This topic is anything but lighthearted and it affects every single person every single day in one way or another. Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be sharing a series of posts talking about the false gods and false gospels we face every day—because the struggle is so real— this is the introduction to the series.

You know that jolting cold sweat panic that creeps in upon realization? I get if after I almost merge into a lane filled with cars I did not see, or when I think I’ve sent a solicitous message to the very person who shouldn’t see it. It’s as if my stomach does a flip inside of me and my heartbeats suddenly become laborious. I hope that you are familiar with this sensation, because this is precisely what I’ve been feeling lately as I’ve read scripture. I’ve been sobered, struck to my innermost core—to my nucleus, as Nacho Libre would call it— and left bristling with goosebumps as I’ve thumbed back through Paul’s letters to Timothy. His prophecies of changing times are harrowing:

“For a time is coming

when people will not endure sound teaching,

but having itching ears

they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

and will turn away from listening to the truth

and wander off into myths”

(2 Timothy 4:3-4, ESV).

I know that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9). So let it be known that I’m not claiming that this is new to our generation. But could it be any more spot on?

“People will not endure sound teaching”… Because the gospel is offensive.

“but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit the own passions”…

We will listen to the people who tell us what we want to hear; likewise, we will “pause”, “unfollow”, and “mute” those who tell us what we don’t want to hear.

“and will turn away from listening to truth and wander off into myths”… commentaries describe ‘myths’ as being fanciful, untrue, and even deceptive; often used to excuse immoral behavior.

We have seen this in our lifetime, and there is surely more to come.

In 2016 Oxford Dictionaries pronounced “Post-Truth” as the international word of the year. The definition is this: “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Yeah, ‘bout sums it up. If the shoe fits, wear it (and by “fits” I don’t mean “conform” or “be bound by size”). We are living in a Post-Truth era, folks. From a cultural standpoint, truth is relative and absolutes are more offensive than not. Paul warns Timothy about times like this and how it will affect the people:

“For people will be lovers of self,

lovers of money,

proud, arrogant, abusive,

disobedient to their parents,

ungrateful, unholy, heartless,

unappeasable,

slanderous,

without self-control,

brutal, not loving good,

treacherous, reckless,

swollen with conceit,

lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

having the appearance of godliness,

but denying its power.

Avoid such people”

(2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Paul warns Timothy to avoid such people. But as I read through that list I know I’m guilty of more than one of the items mentioned, and I need to avoid becoming such a person.

What is a Christian to do?

When we believe that truth is objective and absolute…

When the gospel of Christ is highly offensive (ICYMI, Jesus wasn’t warmly welcomed)…

As we watch leaders and teachers twist the Text to adapt to the times, and in doing so led many astray…

Now more than ever it is absolutely essential that believers  know what the Bible says, and likewise, what it does not say. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV). To be equipped and competent for every good work? #Goals. It is only after we have a Biblical understanding of who God is and what his gospel is that we will be able to spot the false gods and false gospels of this day and age. This is step one.

Next week I’ll be delving more deeply into the false gospels of social media. Until then, join me in meditating on these passages, repenting of areas where I look more like the world than like Jesus, and praying for our world, our culture, and the capital “C” Church as we navigate changing times. Lastly, join me in praising the Lord that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, and that though the times are changing, our God does not.

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