and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. [2 timothy 4:4]
as i sit down to write this blog post in the office at the church building, there are a lot of things that take my mind off of writing – a lot of things that take my eyes off the computer screen. there’s a couple people in the room next to me having a meeting. marc sends the staff a funny meme and everyone’s responding to it. the airbnb i’m booking for emma and my’s 10th anniversary just messaged me back. in general, there’s a lot of directions i could go with my time right now and pretty much all of them take me further and further away from writing this post.
the idea of waking up one morning completely enveloped in myths and false teaching is rare. it’s usually a gradual turning away from truth that results in a seemingly more innocent (but no less dangerous) involvement in false teaching. this means, it can sometimes be difficult to recognize in our lives. one step out of orthodoxy is hard to spot. but when you’re a mile away, it’s much easier to see. but by then, it’s so hard to find your way back. not impossible, and still worthwhile, but much more difficult. so how do we recognize the individual steps before they become miles? i would offer two key ways.
true christian community is so crucial to the life of individuals as followers of Christ. often times we need brothers and sisters to bring us back to the path when we don’t recognize we’re leaving it: to rebuke us of sin in our lives, to question our false beliefs, and to point out the lies we are holding as truth. it is imperative we place ourselves in the midst of community and give it permission to know us and speak into our lives with love and truth. following Jesus on our own was never the way the walk was intended.
there are two actions that are taken in this verse. turning away and wandering off. i would like to propose that wandering off is more difficult if you never turn away. the myth of self-achieved righteousness is not as appealing when you are looking at the righteousness of Christ. the myth of worldly things bringing you satisfaction seems impossible when you are satisfied in Christ. so, eyes fixed on scripture are key to following Jesus. this means personal study of the word, digging into the bible with friends and family, and sitting under the preaching of the word. if any of those things are lacking in your life, it will be difficult to avoid temptation – the devil is like a lion, prowling, waiting to pounce.
the key in all of these things is that you are always pointed back to Jesus. if community doesn’t point you to Jesus when you stray from the path, it isn’t true christian fellowship. if preaching doesn’t help you see your need for Jesus more – the preacher isn’t preaching the word of God.
God, lead us not into temptation. keep our eyes fixed on your son. help us to see the beauty of our Savior and keep our focus on him.
thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “i am the way, and the truth, and the life. no one comes to the father except through me. [john 14:5–6]
~ keith kozlowski