Just a little over 11 years ago, I left the church I grew up in. A church home where I attended from birth until I was 30. Looking back, I am so blessed to have been shown the way to a closer relationship with my savior. Timothy 1 and 2 were the guiding influence in that decision. You see, Timothy talks at length about the church, the role of pastors and deacons and more importantly the qualifications of the pastor and deacons.
Time for a change
I am not quick to make a decision but I had been attending my fiancée’s (and now wife’s) church where they were teaching these books. At the time, the church was training me for a leadership position. However, after 6 weeks in Timothy it became clear to me that I fell short. To be clear, all of us fall short of Timothy’s qualifications but who was I to be leading others? I knew very little of the Bible so how could I teach or lead others? Ignorantly is the answer. Why am I writing this post now? Am I better equipped? Nope, I still know my faults and limitations. However, I want others to find a good church like I did. A church that will teach you so that when you you are IN the world you have the ability to apply the Bible to any situation.
Let me explain: In my first thirty years, my model was you. Looking at my own life and actions, as long as I wasn’t as bad as you, I was ok right? It might be absurd but that was what I was taught–definitely bit what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches us that all sin is equal in God’s eyes and that we are all sinners. So, there is not a better sinner than another in His eyes. I don’t understand it and never will until I am with Him.
I am probably rambling again so let me get to the point. If your church tells you are doing OK, doesn’t follow or skips portions of the Bible and NEVER offends you, then you need to look elsewhere. If you are never offended by a sermon, the. You are being taught that you’re “doing OK”. Unfortunately, none of us can be/do that. We all sin and that sin is wrong and we need to change that. For example, I was once told that my priorities should be 1) God 2) my local church 3) my spouse, kids, family etc. I was also told: “we don’t think that’s wrong because they do it in California” (in reference to a pastor living with a woman who is not his wife.)
Timothy tells us that “what they do in California” is not enough. Our pastors must be blameless and above reproach. That is not to say that they are sinless or perfect, but they must be diligent to live by the principals of the Bible. The handbook for them (as well as us) MUST be the Bible at all times and if the Bible says it’s wrong, then they must avoid it. The same holds true for all of us.
I know my faults and where I need to improve but it wasn’t until I left that church that I started learning how to use the Bible to guide my daily life. Peter, Paul, Timothy, John and others were sinners just like me who were used by God to deliver his commandments to us. We live in a fallen world but we are not to be OF that world. That is, when California says one thing and the Bible says another, we should ALWAYS follow what the Bible says. Only in the last 11 years have I really learned to look to the Bible for guidance. 1 Peter 2:16-24, 2 Timothy 4:6-8 and 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 are some of my most frequently referenced passages.
A good church teaches this. So, rather than ask “What do they do in California”, ask yourself what Jesus said or what the Bible teaches. That’s why He gave us the Bible.