Today’s Pulse article is adapted from the March 14th, 2017 post.
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-- with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)
In Paul’s second letter to his protégé Timothy, he warns him that the time will come when people will seek out teachers who “say what their itching ears want to hear.” I imagine there have always been teachers like this throughout the history of the church, but this warning is undoubtedly prophetic today. But rather than point the fingers at others, we would be prudent to consider where it is that we are most tempted as American Christians to have our itching ears scratched.
- I want a God who affirms my lifestyle and does not expect me to change. Don’t preach to me about holiness and sanctification. Don’t remind me that my sinful nature is deceitful and hostile to God. Don’t tell me that being a new creation means that I should walk according to the Spirit. And please don’t teach me the Bible and challenge me to obey God. Just tell me that God loves me just as I am and that I’m already going to heaven, so I can live however I please.
- I want a God who wants me to gain all I can in this world. Don’t tell me about the cross, about denying myself and following Jesus. Don’t teach me that a servant isn’t above his master, that if Jesus suffered than I will too. Don’t refocus my heart on eternity. Just tell me that if I truly believe in God, that I will be rich, that I will get that promotion, and that I will have everything my heart desires.
- I want a God who would never let bad things happen to me. Don’t tell me about suffering as the path to glory. Don’t teach me about the suffering of Jesus or the suffering of the apostles. Just tell me that if I have enough faith, that I will never get sick, that God will overcome every obstacle in my life, and that this life will be one victory after another.
- I want a God who exists to serve me. Don’t remind me that I am not the center of the universe. Don’t tell me that are billions of people out there in need of Jesus. And don’t tell me that the Bible – and this life – is all about Jesus. Just tell me how the Bible can help me make more money, have a better sex life, have happier kids, experience less stress, and achieve my dreams in life.
Our ears are all itching, and if we aren’t aware of what false messages we are hoping to hear, we will end up gathering around ourselves teachers who scratch our itching ears. Let me encourage you instead to read God’s Word, to allow it to confront and challenge you wherever it will, and to submit to God’s truth in every way, because He is good, He loves you, and He is the way to eternal life.