by Kevin Roop
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Avoid such people? How am I supposed to avoid the guy who looks back at me in the mirror? Whenever I read this passage to others, someone always says, “That sounds like today.” When I read it to myself, I know it describes me. We are living in the last days. We are steeped in the self-love, pride, arrogance, ingratitude, heartlessness and pleasure-love that underpins, underlies and defines today’s world. These things are viewed as values to be pursued and emulated. We are surrounded by them and too often swallowed up by them.
This is a post about “Church Life:” the life of a self-loving, ungrateful, unholy saint and the world-influenced sinful saints he lives among, loves and tries to minister to. We live in difficult times (“Perilous times,” the KJV says). We have become such people. Left to our own efforts, these are the people we will continue to be.
But, thank God, we are not left to fix ourselves. The Holy Spirit is doing His work on us and in us. With the Law He convicts us and dismantles what the world has constructed. Through the Gospel He comforts us and makes us new, different people and builds us together into a new people for God. And He does this not by osmosis but through means: Christ’s Word that we hear, baptismal water that washes us clean, Christ’s body and blood that we swallow.
Which is why we need a “Church Life,” you and I, why we need to be gathered together where the Lord calls us. It’s why I need to see you in church beside me and hear you sing and pray and confess with me. It’s why you need to see and hear me with you. It’s why it really does mean so much just to show up and receive the gifts that the Lord brings. Church Life – from God for us, together.
The Rev. Kevin Roop is pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, Marcus, Iowa.