“Our desire to wander is often rooted in a deeper desire to be free from the constraints and messiness of Christian community.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – January 15, 2022
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:1-4, ESV
“Not all who wander are lost.” This phase has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, emblazoned on coffee mugs, stickers, and journals. For the adventurer at heart, it gives voice to their wanderlust, claiming as virtue that which might be seen as the vice of indecisiveness or apathy. And while I certainly don’t want to douse the flame of your exploration and adventure, I do want to allow our lives to be principally shaped by the words of Scripture, not an inspirational phrase you may have stumbled upon by accident.
According to 2 Timothy 4, the urge to wander is a dangerous desire that has the potential to lead us down a path of death and destruction. Wandering leads us away from the truth and “off into myths.” In this passage, “myths” has less to do with fanciful stories and more to do with concrete lies about ourselves and the world that, without the reorienting reality of Christ, we become more and more prone to believe as truth.
Wandering as a limited season of exploration can be a gift and blessing to many. We search and explore, longing to know what is good, beautiful, and true. But this kind of wandering is not meant to be our perpetual reality but is a journey in search of a destination. If we miss this key truth, we will believe that wandering is the point, not a means to a greater end.
Does the wandering spirit in your life lead you deeper in a search for truth, or does it simply confirm your own desire for a self-directed and accountability-free spirituality? This, I believe, is the heart of what St. Paul wants us to see in today’s passage: Our desire to wander is often rooted in a deeper desire to be free from the constraints and messiness of Christian community.
The way of Christ demands the complete death of our distorted passions and pursuits. And since this hard truth isn’t a message we easily tell ourselves, we must commit our lives to a faithful community in which the call to take up our cross is proclaimed with clarity and conviction! If not, we will simply seek out leaders and communities that tell us exactly what we want to hear: “You’re perfect just as you are.” “Your happiness is God’s top priority.” “Financial abundance is a sign of your faithful discipleship.”
When you find yourself “prone to wander,” as the old hymn puts it, seek to discern if it is a Spirit-led journey deeper into the truth of God as revealed in and through his Word, or might it be your “itching ears” leading you astray?
Father, keep us tethered to your truth, not enslaved to our own desires for personal gratification and fulfillment, through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
Reflect today upon the messages to which your itching ears are most deeply drawn.
Brian Johnson: We Will Not Be Shaken
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