For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. – 2 Timothy 4:3-4
We have wandered – drifted if you will. We, the Church, have drifted away from the sound doctrine of the One who came to show us that love has no bounds. There are plenty of pieces of doctrine that we could point to as proof that we have drifted. From our attempts to integrate church and state to the completely upside-down way it is actualized when we do – forcing our religion on others, favoring the powerful over the powerless, the haves over the have-nots, and ignoring the needs of the least of these in favor of a secure bottom line. Oh, we have wandered – we have drifted.
Worse yet, that part of us that was crafted by God, made in the image of God, into which God breathed the Divine breath giving us life…that part of us knows that we have drifted and even as those who preach this ungodly doctrine spew their distorted gospel on our ears, our ears itch – knowing that what they receive is not of God but of humanity. So, we seek out others who will repeat that message time and time again until the itch seems normal, until we buy into their myths that speak to our earthly desires of power, prestige and self-promotion. All the while, the part of us that seeks it’s Creator itches, longing for a piece of respite from the earthly myths that propagate hatred, entitlement and advantage. We have begun to believe the myths.
We have begun to believing the myths of -isms. The -Ism Myths that say one race is more important than another, that one sex is inferior to another, that the wealthy should have more power and voice than the poor, that not everyone deserves to have to their basic health needs met, that the way God designs some people’s sexuality is more acceptable than others, that forgiveness is a good thing to talk about but it is sometimes impractical in life, that being disabled makes a person less capable, that we are not to bare false witness against others unless of course it benefits us in some way….oh, we have drifted and we are lost in the seas of racism, sexism, classism, capitalism, ableism, heterosexism…we are lost in a sea of -Ism Myths and we need to reorient ourselves toward sound doctrine for our itching ears.
All of those -ism are important parts to recognize. They can also be very complicated and complex issues to sort out. The issue in which I am most interested, the myth which I most care to refute, is the one that says our differences divide, that we are too different to get along, that in God’s infinite wisdom God failed to see that making us so different would mean we could never come together. It is upon that myth that we, the Church, have ultimately been set adrift.
It has been said, and rightfully so, that the most segregated (the most separated) hour of the week is the hour of worship on Sunday. We have bought into the myth that our cultures are so different that it only make sense that we would worship separately. It is a myth because it is not our differences that divide us…it is our similarities. It is not the differences in our cultures that divide us when we come before God, but our similar inabilities to over come our intolerances.
We have lost sight of the love of neighbor and have been set adrift in our love of self. We have lost sight of the love of neighbor and been set adrift in our own personal needs and desires. We have lost sight of the love of neighbor and been set adrift in an intolerance rooted in selfishness.
It is of little surprise that our nation is so divided when our churches are so divided – by age, by race, by economics. It is not surprising that we cannot figure out how to come together in our daily lives when we cannot figure out how to come together in our spiritual lives.
I remember siting at the children’s table at Thanksgiving and wanting to be at the adult’s table. In the Kingdom of God there is no children’s table, no black table, no white table, not one for the rich and one for the poor, one for the able and one for the disabled. In the Kingdom of God all sit at one table. Until we, the Church, a place that professes that our foundation is love, can overcome division due to intolerance, we have no right to act surprised or disheartened when our nation can do no better.
Love does not divide, it unites. Love of God and of neighbor is sound doctrine. The question is do we have ears to hear, or will we continue to allow our ears to itch?