The With-God Life: 1 Timothy 3:14-16

Major on the majors


This week we are going to read about things that really matter.

A quick read through Church history reveals the fact that Christians have frequently been divided over things of minor significance. A church to which I belonged in London had as one of its guiding principles this statement:

 In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity,

Of course, there might have been some discussion about what was essential – so the statement is not too simple to work out in practice!

However, it made a good starting point whenever any dispute arose about personal conduct or belief. So we shall reflect on a few essentials this week – and perhaps debate whether certain things are essential for belief and action as we follow Jesus in the Christian Community called ‘Church’.

Read 1 Timothy 3:14-16

v 14   I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Paul was concerned about behaviour – how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. It is quite possible that we might disagree over what is appropriate behaviour for a Christian. Shopping on a Sunday used to be a definite No-No, as was the Preacher wearing shorts for the service or a woman not wearing a hat in Church. No disagreement over murder, or adultery, or theft of course, but what about driving at 50 mph in a 30 mph area or taking home and using the pencils provided in the works office?

Are there standards of behaviour that mark a boundary between acceptable Christian conduct and which will apply to all people for all time – some sort of absolute reference points. Or is suitable conduct simply a matter of cultural norms and legal social requirements? If you are a parent you may well have had a teenager look you in the eye and say “But Dad, everybody does it!” – as if that is sufficient reason for some questionable behaviour. Paul was horrified by certain sexual behaviour in the Church at Corinth. “I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. “  (! Cor 5:1) and his advice was pretty direct “Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns. “ That was direct action over unacceptable behaviour!

(If you read on in 2 Corinthians 2 you will find this man turned his life round and was accepted back with love.)

Some conduct is unacceptable because it brings shame on the Church and so also on the name of Jesus. What kind of conduct would you include in this – and would we all agree that good conduct for a Christian is essential?

Monday 27th June Daily Notes from the Hub