SHARONVILLE, OH – Tragedy strikes the human experience. We suffered the horror of the Valentine’s Day slaughter of children at a Florida high school. We bid farewell to the last great evangelist just a few days later. Many readers experienced the loss of a loved one or friend to sickness, accident or age. Nothing ever prepares us for these events but it’s the first one, in Florida, that has rocked us to our core. How could a young man decide to deliberately murder his peers? Does the Bible reveal the root of such tragedy?
Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 about the last days. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;”
Whether these are the last days or not, all would agree they are perilous. The thing that makes them that way are the men who live as Paul describes. The list is long and sordid. As we look at it we can calculate multiple reasons why tragedy is the fruit of such men. So how does the church respond? Let’s stay with Paul’s letter to Timothy and see if he’ll give us an answer to our question.
First, he tells Timothy to hold on to what he has learned (2 Tim 3:14-17). Timothy lived a biblically centered life which started in his childhood and continued through his association with Paul. The church and Christian parents must make Bible training a priority for children and youth. It is time to return to catechizing our families in the word of God and the doctrines of our faith.
Second, he tells Timothy to preach the word (2 Tim 4:1-2). Notice that this is the only remedy to the kind of unsound doctrine that leads to error. The church must make the exposition of the word of God central to every service, every ministry, every class, and every event. It is the foundation of a healthy Christian spirituality.
Finally, he gives Timothy a four-fold charge (2 Tim 4:5). Paul tells him to watch. This is the work of every man in prayer. Watchfulness describes the church. Paul tells him to endure affliction. We have something of the same tenor in 1 Tim 2:3 where Paul says, “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Life during perilous times is hard. The “despisers” are looking for a reason to do their work against the church. We must endure and preach and pray. Paul tells him to do the work of an evangelist. Our broken world needs the gospel. The men described in chapter three need the gospel. Who will tell them if not the church? Paul ends by telling him to fully perform his ministry. People are hurting.
Tragedy again has raised its ugly head. How should the church respond? We fully perform our ministry by demonstrating the love of God we have received. The shattered and broken hearted need comfort. They need the comfort we have received in Christ. During these perilous times let’s resolve to let the church be the church. That is, a family of biblically centered, cross carrying, Christ committed people ready to comfort a hurting world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David B. Smith is a pastor and the founder and broadcaster of Daily Dose Radio, a five minute podcast studying the Psalms verse by verse.