Life is like sailing a ship. Sometimes to get to your destination you need to change course, even back track, to avoid sandbars, to utilize prevailing winds, or to avoid heavy seas.
When coming back from the Philippine Islands, our navigator had planned a great circle route directly to Seattle. But a storm arose putting our course parallel to the waves, rolling the ship we were on from side to side. Hence we changed course and headed due east until reaching the coast then headed north adding a full day to our trip. But keeping our destination in mind we arrived safely.
Paul reminds us to continue in what we have learned so that we will reach the destination God has planned for us, our salvation.
But Paul also warns us of other voices calling to us, distracting us from our destination, like the Sirens that distracted sailors of Greek mythology from their destinations. Unlike foghorns that warn us of the dangers of rocks and sandbars to steer around, the voices Paul warns us of are pleasant to hear, suiting our desires. Much as Facebook and Twitter, and to a lesser extent, the news media in general, chose articles to present to their audience based on which articles they have liked in the past. This assures the reader of a pleasant experience that they will choose to return to at a future date. However, truth that lies outside of a reader’s preferred experience will not be shown, leaving every available inch to that which tickles a reader’s ear.
Paul warns us to see that we attend to sound doctrine rather than doctrine that sounds good. Fortunately, God has given us in the Holy Scriptures a lighthouse and channel buoys in the teachings of thoughtful Christians. Scripture calls us towards our destination and the sound teachings guide us between the rocks and sandbars along the way.
I will have more to say about the apostle Paul’s final letter to his young student Timothy (2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5) on Sunday, October 16th, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor