Monday, August 13, 2007

Civilian Entanglements

The glare of famous verses in a book, especially a small book, can blind you to some underpublicized nuggets. Such is the case of Paul's second epistle to Timothy. Think of 2nd Timothy and, if you're like me, the statistically anomalous 3:16 (all scripture is inspired) comes to mind.

But yesterday, in Sunday School, we read a passage from chapter two, and I was struck by:

3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. (2 Tim 2:3-4)

I like the part about not getting entangled in civilian pursuits. Both John Calvin and Matthew Henry view this along the lines that pastors should give up everything, including their previous occupation—something which isn't always possible. I think that is part, but not the entire meaning.

(Aside: we make it way too hard for men to become pastors, some denominations (Presbyterians) ridiculously so. If PCA elders had encountered Apollos in Ephesus (Acts 18:24-26) they would have been beside themselves—probably writhing on the ground in paroxysms of righteous indignation. But what happened in Acts? Priscilla—a (gasp) woman and Aquila simply corrected his teaching, without four years of cash-cow seminary study, and sent him on his way. Imagine that!)

Back to the passage above. It seems to me that politics are just about the most entangling of all civilian activities. I think it is not a stretch to argue that Paul's teaching can be applied as an admonition regarding Christians getting involved in politics. To wit: don't do it.

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