Thursday, June 7, 2012

Timothy the man

For the rest of this week we read from the second of Paul's letters to Timothy. I refer to them without the title saint not out of disrespect but out of recognition that words work on multiple levels of meaning. When we call someone Saint we honor their holiness, but at the same time we can without meaning to transform them from human beings like ourselves to the perfect marble statues we see in museums and churches. We can make them too attractive in a superficial way.

In fact, we can do the same thing with Christianity as a whole. When we constantly talk of love we can without meaning to change Christianity into something that is very attractive, but in the way pastry is attractive.

When we read the bible we need to see human beings like ourselves who lived in a world harsher than most of us will ever encounter. Paul opens this letter to Timothy not by telling him "God loves you and wants you to find and do what will makes you happy." Paul opens by telling him to "bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God."

Holiness not happiness should be the daily, immediate goal. The good news is that if we aim at holiness we will get happiness in the long run. If we aim at happiness we may, in the long run, end up with the great nothing.