Tuesday, July 8, 2014

1 Timothy 3:15: Avoiding Exclusivity and Embracing Jesus

“... the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”
1 Timothy 3: 15b (NRSV)

Some Christian denominations tend to see their faith tradition as the exclusive “pillar and bulwark of the truth,” but it really is the universal ("catholic") Christian church that is the household, strength, and protection of God's truth. One should not be exclusive and say that a singular faith tradition contains the "pillar and bulwark," for the truth of Christ's gospel is also found in other Christian denominations. Although Christian denominations have varying doctrines and ways of worship, they are all part of the body of Christ. Doctrine, however, does not define our relationship with the Holy Trinity. Instead, faith, hope, and love in Jesus Christ; love of God above all things; and love of our neighbor as ourselves characterize our relationship with God. The "church of the living God," therefore, is not something for which one denomination should claim ownership. When exclusivity is claimed, religion can become a reflection of the hypocritical Pharisees of Christ's time (see Matthew 23).  Focusing on love of God and neighbor destroys this potential hypocritical view and instead models the love Jesus Christ gives to all, a love, that when reflected in all Christians, will draw others to the beauty of God’s household in Christ.