“Word for Today” – 2 Timothy 1 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

May 1, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

ut-1The other day, I was having a conversation with a very bright and well-spoken professor from the University of Texas.  He was bemoaning the fact that recent events in America’s political landscape had  shifted his campus at Austin from a more “liberal” and “tolerant” stance to a more “conservative” and “close-minded” one.  I could hardly contain my disbelief at his analysis.  “Really?” I asked with a clear strain of skepticism in my voice.  “Yes,” he continued, “But I don’t really talk about my political views much.  Most Texans are too conservative for me to feel comfortable in voicing my opinions to them.  And besides, there are two things you never talk about:  politics and religion.”

This well-educated, well-informed, well-spoken college professor had just excused himself from any meaningful conversation concerning issues of government and faith with an old, tired, and, if I do say so myself, seriously lacking cliché:  “There are two things you never talk about:  politics and religion.”

As oft-repeated as this cliché might be, I would contend that it is baldly false:  both in its description of reality and its promotion of certain values.  In its description of reality, it is false because, despite its claim, people do talk about politics and religion…constantly. A quick channel surf through cable news networks and religious channels demonstrates this in spades.  I would also say that this cliché promotes false values in that there are serious issues of our day which must be addressed.  And politics and religion both have something to bring to the table.  To forfeit our right to speak of these things means to forfeit contributions that we can make to meaningful, history altering, and life saving conversations.  Unless we wish either to deny reality or to compromise our values, we must talk about politics and religion.

Of course, I suppose you would expect to read as much from a pastor.  After all, isn’t it my job to talk about, at the very least, the religion side of this cliché?  Actually, it is not so much my job as it is my mandate.  In our text for today from 2 Timothy 1, the apostle Paul reminds the young pastor:  “Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord” (verse 8).  “There is something that you must talk about, Timothy,” says Paul, “and this is the gospel of our Lord.  No cliché excuses for lapsing into quietism.”  Thus, talking about Jesus is much more than my career.  It is my commission.

I would say that talk about religion is needed now more than ever.  Pastor John Ortberg, in a blog for Leadership Journal, alerted me to this telling statistic:  “The recently released American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) indicates that…the single fastest-growing category when it comes to religious affiliation is ‘None,’ which grew from 8 percent to 15 percent since 1990.”  In other words, when people are asked about their religious beliefs, rather than identifying themselves as Evangelical, Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, or even atheist, they simply say, “I don’t believe much of anything.  When it comes to religious commitment, or even religious hostility, I have none.”  This is probably because, when asked, there are two things those surveyed don’t want to talk about:  politics and religion.

In the midst of such religious apathy, we are called to be different.  We are called to testify to our Lord.  So get to talking.  With grace, compassion, and sensitivity, of course, but get to talking.  After all, we are talking about the most precious message there is:  the message of “God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (verse 9).  And that’s a message worth talking about.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – 1 Timothy 6 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – 2 Timothy 2 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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