“Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.” – 2 Timothy 1:13-14.
God has a purpose for each of us individually and as a church, and the only way that we can fulfill that purpose is if we hold onto the truth. But the truth is not easy to hold onto, especially when the culture around us is trying its hardest to make us bend or conform to its norms. Our culture is becoming increasingly hostile toward committed Christians, which means it is becoming more and more costly to follow Christ. How do we serve God in this environment? Do we retreat? Do we go into hiding? No, we hold onto the truth as Paul tells Timothy in the above passage.
Not long before his death, Paul wrote this moving letter to Timothy, who was like a son to him. Paul’s words had powerful meaning for Timothy—and us. Paul calls on Timothy to hold tightly to the pattern of truth that he taught him. Do not compromise it, change it, soften the message or dilute it. It has been said that everything changes over time. So Paul exhorts Timothy to watch his doctrine and make sure that it will not erode through adversity, in trials and tribulations and when culture seeks to change you. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.”
We all long to be fully devoted to God, but it is amazing how fast and how far culture can seep into our life when we are not paying attention. In weak moments, I can spend money on myself that I’ve saved to give away. I’ve sat halfway through a sitcom before realizing I’m laughing at things I should not be laughing at. There are things that have morphed into obsessions. Or I have invested time in everything but in my relationship with God. It can happen quickly when we neglect to pay attention and we do not have the ability to block or stop it before it happens. And sometimes, maybe slowly at first, it can trump my devotion to God.
In Future Shock, Alvin Toffler wrote that when people go through times of rapid change, they need what he calls “islands of stability.” Those are things that do not change in your life—sources of security, safe harbors and anchors for the inevitable storms. The believers one true source of stability is the one thing much of culture has tried to marginalize—God.
No matter how tumultuous or volatile this world, society and culture gets, we can count on God to be our anchor and refuge. Malachi 3:6 assures us, “I am the Lord, and I do not change…” We’re reminded again in Hebrews 13:8 that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” In Isaiah 40:8 God says, “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” Biblical truths have stood the test of time. The Bible has never been disproved and never goes out of date. God’s truths are as applicable to our society today and continues to be an “island of stability” for us in a changing world.
- Think about a time you were forced to choose between God’s way and culture’s way? What did you choose? Why?
- In what way does His truth help us deal with culture?
- What can we do this week to make God’s truth an island of stability?