Date: Monday, October 14
Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:1-9
Verse: For people will be…holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! (2 Timothy 3:5)
I can still sing part of the Schoolhouse Rock song, “Conjunction junction, what’s your function?” Some of you remember those as videos in school. I’m old enough to remember when it was played on Saturday mornings between cartoons (if you have no idea what I’m talking about you can see it on YouTube here, and embedded below). The song taught us about the part of speech called “conjunctions,” – and, but, or. The gist of the song is that conjunctions bring words and phrases together.
In recent years that memory has come back several times when reading about the teachings of John and Charles Wesley. Somewhere along the line a scholar called their theology “conjunctive” because they were able to hold together two ideas, as both sides of the same coin. Think of our Jerusalem cross logo where we emphasize our faith needs to include works of piety AND mercy, which are both public AND private.
Similarly, as in today’s passage, the Wesley’s didn’t hold the inward power of religion as the opposite of the outward form, but instead emphasized how both were needed. Wesley argued, “For though the form may be without the power, yet the power cannot be without the form. Outward religion may be where inward is not. But if there is none without [that is, the outward form], there can be none within” (Chilcote, location 591-597).
Notice the list of clues Paul gives Timothy for spotting those who have the “outward form” but are denying the power of faith. Most of them could be classified as selfish motives, making one’s faith more about self than others, even God in Jesus Christ. As Wesley taught in his conjunctive theology, we need both the form of godliness, and to be transformed from the inside out.
As we prepare for Pastor Bob’s sermon on this passage, this week’s devotions will lead us through several readings that talk about the difference between the “outward form” and the power of godliness.
Prayer: May my faith, O God, be less about looking faithful and more about being faithful. Amen.
Action: Take an inventory of your motives for faith. Be honest. It is not easy, but it may prove fruitful.
Respond: What educational video from your grade school days do you remember? Answer by clicking “Leave a Comment” below.
If you are receiving this via email, click the title at the top of the email to take you to the devotion webpage where you can leave a comment.
Chilcote, Paul Wesley. Recapturing the Wesleys’ Vision: An Introduction to the Faith of John and Charles Wesley. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004. Kindle edition.