We all have our morning routines. Mine is retrieving my favorite coffee cup, turning on the Keurig coffee machine, and choosing a pod of one of the coffees I like. Although there are many roasts and flavors available, I flock to plain old black coffee. The other flavors and blends are there if we have company. But my routine, my desire, my choice is for a straight black coffee that is neither too weak nor too strong. There’s something comforting about being able to choose exactly what I want when I want it. However, we often treat faith the same way.
Paul writes to Timothy in a letter designed to pass the torch, “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3, NLT) We live in an age of unbridled accessibility. Want to know something? Google it. Want to buy something? It’s only a click or two away. Want to know what is going on in the world? News is at your fingertips.
When I was growing up, there was a very small pool of news sources, three network half-hour news telecasts, two metro daily papers, and one local weekly paper. Now, how many news sources are there? Pick your flavor and strength. Don’t like what one channel has to say? Switch to another. Don’t like an internet news source? There’s plenty of outlets that will color the news to your personal taste. Unlimited choice has become part of our routine, part of our life. Now, make the leap from coffee and news sources to who we choose to impact our faith walk with Jesus.
In the same way, that there are a huge variety of coffee flavors and of news sources there is variety among those proclaiming the truths of Christ. We can get into a routine of only listening to those that are comfortable, affirming, perhaps tickle our ears, or with whom we stand in near total agreement on all things Christian. Here’s something to consider. Paul encouraged Timothy to provide a balanced diet of God’s word to his people. “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2, NLT) Our faith needs to be corrected when we veer off-course. Our faith needs to be rebuked to shake us from a deep ditch we may have fallen in. Our faith needs to be built up, encouraged, and perhaps even stretched beyond our comfort.
In other words, we need a balanced diet that challenges us to continually move forward in Christ. This is not a condemnation of pastors and teachers that tend almost exclusively towards one of these. The point is that we must recognize our own tendency to listen to those we like or that say what we want to hear.
Is your faith routine? Is your walk with Jesus impacted by folks teaching God’s word with correction, warning, and encouragement? Who we listen to requires discernment. We must discern truth from error; good and godly teachers from those who are really wolves. But we must also discern our own faith. What are we looking for? What do we want to hear? Do we only want to hear words that are comfortable and easy on our souls?
The call to action is simple. Pray and consider if you’ve fallen into a rut. Ask Jesus to send you what you need to grow deeper into Him. Perhaps you do need correction, receive it with grace. Perhaps you need a stern warning, grab on to that lifeline before you drown. Perhaps your faith needs to be built up, encouraged, stretched, and molded into a new and refined direction. Avoid routine faith where your ears are tickled, seek a vibrant faith in Jesus that is growing ever deeper and more fruitful in Him.