I have to be careful when I am teaching from apostle Paul's epistles because I enjoy tracing the events of the early Church, and can get distracted from the message therein. There are clues in all of the epistles that, when tied in with the book of Acts, gives us a good timeline as to the events.
For example, in this letter (1 Timothy 1), Paul mentions leaving Timothy behind to look after certain doctrinal matters in Ephesus while he headed off to Macedonia. This was when Paul felt in the Spirit that he had to go to Jerusalem and hoped to go on to Spain. However, as he traveled through Macedonia, on his way to Jerusalem, the Spirit revealed he would be arrested and end up in Rome.
We can also see here that Paul left Timothy with a significant responsibility in this huge area of ministry in Ephesus. Paul had charged him with the responsibility of keeping people fixed on what was important:
When I was leaving for Macedonia, I asked you to stay on in Ephesus and warn certain people there to stop spreading their false teachings. You needed to warn them to stop wasting their time on senseless stories and endless lists of ancestors. Such things only cause arguments. They don’t help anyone to do God’s work that can only be done by faith. (1 Timothy 1:3-4)
Of course, in the midst of this great work that was taking place in Asia Minor, the enemy was present to spread seeds of distraction and division. Here Paul named two things that people were wasting their time on: senseless stories and endless lists of ancestors. Paul made his point firm: these things do nothing to help anyone do God's work that can only be done by faith. I think we need a few Timothy's to rise up today with the same mission.
Let's face it, the enemy has done a pretty good job at dividing and distracting us over useless things. I am not a Catholic and I do not look to the Pope as my spiritual leader but I understand what he was saying the other week. He said that the Church was being distracted by issues of sin instead of pursuing our mission.
What is our mission? To make disciples. How are we making disciples when we are out waiving placards against homosexuality and abortion? Do we not understand that if we carried out our mission, to make disciples, that homosexuality and abortion would not be an issue?
The world cannot understand spiritual matters. The world cannot understand why homosexuality is wrong. The world cannot understand why unborn children are a gift of God, precious and deserving full protection. They cannot understand these things because they do not have Jesus. They can only understand, we can only understand, by the Spirit of God. So we need to be involved in their salvation not their condemnation.
I am not saying that we should not tell them about sin but if that is all we do then they are lost. Paul charged Timothy with the responsibility of pointing out what was wrong because the things they were involved in only caused arguments and division. Timothy was given that authority. We need the anointed of God to rise up and tell us to stop it; there are more important matters to deal with. We need to set aside what divides us and lift up what unites us. We need to be united in the Spirit. We need to be unified in our mission, of making disciples.
Paul told Timothy what to teach the Body but we will look at that tomorrow. Today it is enough to think on this matter and how it applies to us. What is it that we are occupied with that is of no help in doing God's work? What useless or senseless thing are we distracted with? What is part of us that is not part of faith? What are we allowing to divide us and stall the advancement of Jesus'mission? Do we need a Timothy to bring us correction? Are we just playing church, acting as philosophers, not understanding our place or purpose, becoming a block to salvation instead of an agent of the Spirit?
God, speak to us the truth, no matter how much it hurts.