22nd Sunday after Pentecost
October 16, 2016
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
“Attack In Any Direction”
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon today is one of my favorite texts. It is today’s Second Lesson from 2 Timothy chapters 3 and 4.
My dear friends,
It was quiet in the Ardennes Forest (Belgium, France, and Luxembourg) on Sunday, Dec 16, 1944. People were preparing for their first Christmas since the Nazis had been driven out. That’s when 4200 German artillery pieces opened up on American positions. Over 400,000 German soldiers marched in; 1200 tanks rolled through. The Nazis’ goal was to take the city of Bastogne and then reclaim Europe. By Dec. 20th, American troops were surrounded. Two days later, the Germans called for surrender. History famously records General Anthony McAuliffe’s one-word reply: “Nuts.” Thus began the now-famous “Battle of the Bulge.”
Meanwhile, history has almost ignored the words of a young soldier, a private from the South. He was also in Bastogne. Being relatively new, he might, you’d think, be shaking in his boots. He wasn’t. He seemed so incredibly calm that his sergeant asked him a question. For the purpose of this sermon, I’ve cleaned up their military language a bit, which will explain my non sequiturs. The conversation went something like this: The sergeant asked, “Private, you do understand the Krauts have us surrounded, don’t you?” “Yup. I get that, Sarge.” “And how do you feel about that, soldier?” asked the sergeant. The private thought and then he drawled, “Well, Sarge, I feel sorry fer them (butterflies).” The sergeant erupted, “What do you mean, them (soft Kitties)? We’re the ones surrounded.” Finishing the last bite of his breakfast, the private explained, “True enough, Sarge, but if I un’erstand kirrectly, this is the first time we kin finally attack the enemy in any direction we wants.”
In any direction we wants. Today, in a different war, in a spiritual war, Christians find themselves in the same predicament. In our day, the faithful of God are also surrounded and able to say: “If we understand correctly, we can attack the enemy in any direction we wants.” Although we’re saddened to make such a statement, we’re not surprised. We’re not surprised because, centuries ago, St. Paul said the day would come when the Savior’s people and his message of salvation would find themselves under attack. Divinely inspired, Paul said, “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” (4:3).
The Holy Spirit described what this day would entail, and see if the warnings don’t accurately describe our generation. The truth of God’s Word is going to be ignored (4:3–4). People will find man-made truths more acceptable to their minds, more palatable to their spiritual appetites. Isn’t this EXACTLY what we’ve seen over the last decade? Even supposed faithful Christians have abandoned the truth, turned away from what God’s Word CLEARLY and REPEATEDLY says about evolution vs. Creation, abortion, human sexuality, marriage, and other issues and instead have wandered off into myths that secular media and our society claim are normal and okay, even to be celebrated! “You are more advanced than your grandparents,” they claim. “What did they know? They were not as tolerant as you are.” Really? We have great technology, but lousy morality. Our ancestors had lousy technology, but their morality was much better. I know which one I would choose regarding better technology or better morality. Better people? No…we’re just more easily led astray.
Truly, the time of which Paul spoke in our text has arrived. People no longer endure sound teaching, but prefer to find teachers who tell them what they want…and what they want bears no resemblance to God’s inspired, inerrant Word.
So, what can/should we do about this? Is attacking the enemy what the Lord wants his people to do? I don’t think so. How about the other extreme? Why not just quietly coexist and know what we believe, even if nobody else agrees? Just keep the peace. Don’t rock the proverbial boat. What do you think of that plan? If I could borrow from General McAullife…Ppthth! However, it is NOT our job to Christianize our society. Nope. Friends, our task is to teach to those in the Church what the Word of God says.
This church, this altar, this pulpit, are here so we can tell the sinful world just how much God cares for them. We exist so the Spirit can use us to reach out and let them know there’s Good News and great joy that has come into this world in the person of Jesus Christ. We come together so that we may go out together and let them know this: “No matter what you’ve done wrong, no matter the magnitude or multitude of your sins, Jesus Christ has fulfilled all of God’s laws for you. He has resisted temptation for you, He has carried your sins for you, and He has died for you. Now, with faith in the risen Redeemer, you are forgiven, saved, strengthened, and loved. As one of His forgiven children, you have been rescued from the punishment that awaited you and have been given a new life, a recycled life, a life where sin, death, and Satan can affect you, but they no longer own or control you.”
“Attack in any direction?” No, our job is to preach the story of salvation in every direction. God has the final word: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus . . . preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” Preach the Word. Preach and live the Word so the world might be changed. More importantly, preach the Word so the world doesn’t change you.
We stand fast when everyone else is deserting; we share God’s truth to counter the devil’s lies. Preach the Word; that’s not just my job…it’s ALL OF OUR jobs! It is who we are. It is what we do. By God’s grace, may it always be so.