Bread – Entangle

February 11, 2015


Readings for Wednesday, February 11, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 59:15b-21; 2 Tim. 1:15-2:13; Mark 10:1-16; Psalms 81,82,119:97-120

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In today’s reading from Paul’s second letter to Timothy, God through Paul says this: “”Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete … It is the hard-working farmer ….” 2 Tim. 2:3-6

Reading this got me to thinking about the various roles we have. Reading this in plain language, as soldiers of Jesus Christ, enlisted by God, we ought to please Him, which means not engaging in civilian pursuits.

As many of you know, I am right now heavily involved in politics. There is not much more of a civilian pursuit than politics, I promise you. As a Christian, therefore, should I be engaged in politics? It would appear that this verse would say “no.”

And this is how great mistakes are made in our study of the Bible. What was the mistake I made above? God through Paul uses the word “entangle,” (“No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits…”); I transformed the word “entangle” into “engage” (…”which means not engaging in civilian pursuits”). There is a huge difference between the words “entangle” and “engage.”

Indeed, as soldiers of Christ we are commanded to engage the world, the civilian sphere, the places and people outside the army of God. We are commanded to preach to the world, we are commanded to live in the world as ambassadors of Christ, and we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves.

But we do not, as Christians, need to become entangled in the world, letting the world dictate how we behave, what we say, who we follow, whom we love.

There are many ways to get entangled in the world. One way is education … when we are educated by the world’s systems of thought, we are becoming entangled intellectually in an ungodly way of thinking. When we go to our job, we become entangled in the idiosyncrasies of our bosses and co-workers, we become bound up with the employer’s policies and procedures, and we become enmeshed in our customers’ or clients’ needs and wants. When we pay our bills, we are entangled in a web of expense and debt, much of our own doing, but which is not Christian. When we go to parties, we become entangled in our families’ and friends’ lives, responding to them in worldly ways rather than godly ways.

One way to become entangled in the world is to let our prejudices, our stone hearts, our desires, our selfishness, be used as weapons against God’s Word. For example, where did the “slip” from “entangle” to “engage” occur. In my brain. Why? I don’t know. But the entanglement with the world is so subtle, so powerful, and so enslaving that we must constantly be in God’s Word, letting it dictate to us God’s meaning and not us dictating to it our meaning.

How do we know how well we are entangled in the world? The test is built into our reading today – how much are you suffering? When we are floating down the river of life with the flow, we are deeply entangled in the water because we are driven entirely by the direction of the flow. When we are no longer entangled, when we take up the oars of life to pull the boat to the other shore or to turn around and go back upstream, we are no longer entangled with the river … we are independent of it – but, man! How sore will we be from the effort? How much will the river punish us for swimming to safe shore or paddling upstream?

It is easy to become entangled in the world; after all, we live in it. But that is no excuse. If we are a good soldier for Christ, we will not become entangled in the world because we have a job to do and entanglement in civilian affairs slows us down or defeats us.

How do we avoid becoming entangled in worldly webs?

I know of only one way, because it is something we cannot do on our own. Come Holy Spirit, show me God’s Word in its true reading and meaning and sink it deep into my character. Come Holy Spirit and show me the soldier’s path laid out by my King. Come Holy Spirit and strengthen me for the journey. Come Holy Spirit and sustain me in the sufferings to come. Come Holy Spirit and supply what I lack. Come Holy Spirit and make me like a Christian Teflon, where I cannot become entangled in the world because the world slides right off. Come Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit.

“O Israel, if you would but listen to Me! There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Ps. 68:8b-10 My summary – “O My people, if you would but listen to Me! There shall be no entanglement with strange gods and you will not bow down to the world. I am the Lord your God, who delivered you from slavery of sin by my sovereign act, by the death and resurrection of My Son. Open your mouth wide in anticipation of the good things I will give you, and I will fill it.”

Come Holy Spirit.

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© 2015 GBF

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