A series of unfortunate events landed me in a doctor’s waiting room, where I expected and received the contempt of the two ladies manning the reception desk. I was there as my husband’s advocate; I can say no more.
Ours is not a shame-based culture, but I was ashamed. My worst feature is fear of man, and the flip side of that is shame. I pulled out my pocket New Testament, as much to look occupied as to read. I opened at Timothy and began at the top: “As I urged you when I going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.”
God flipped the script on me. This umpteenth reading of a familiar passage gave insight into Timothy, for once, not Paul. Paul had “urged” him one time before to stay in Ephesus. This second urging suggests something about Timothy the man: He would rather not stay in Ephesus to “charge certain persons” anything. Timothy, like me, is non-confrontational by nature and prefers to be liked.
We must not imagine the “certain persons” he is asked to confront as caricatures. Imagine, rather, the face of a famous preacher of our times. And not a preacher from that other camp that we have no truck with anyway, and that our inner circle disdains, but rather the most popular religious figures in our own denomination, the keynotes at our conferences. These are the people Paul says have drifted from the goal of “love,” a “pure heart,” a “good conscience,” and a “sincere faith” (1:5). These are the men Paul wants Timothy to “remain at Ephesus so that you may charge.” They are off on some other religious trip they claim is biblical—perhaps the prosperity gospel, perhaps the embrace of homosexuality.
Courage and bravery are for some reason not often preached on. More’s the pity because now is the hour when true followers of God’s Word will be needing them:
“The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God” (John 16:2).
So it occurs to me today in the doctor’s office: If I cannot endure the contempt of two receptionists in a well-lit and comfortable waiting room, how will I bear up under persecution for standing for the truth about sexuality when the churches and Christian organizations, like dominoes, all come to embrace gay rights and call me stupid and a bigot for not agreeing?