NASHVILLE (BP) – This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.
Bible Passage: 2 Timothy 1:7-12
- How closely do your Christian values, attitudes, and lifestyle align with those of the culture within which you live?
- When you find yourself in a situation where your Christian values, attitudes, and/or lifestyle vary greatly from the prevailing values, attitudes, and/or lifestyles, how do you typically respond?
- From your perspective, are Christians as a whole more likely to isolate in the face of opposition, or engage the culture with a biblical worldview? Explain. What might the response say about one’s perception of God’s purpose and ability to fulfill that purpose?
Food for thought:
BREAKING NEWS: The culture in which we live increasingly views Christianity with indifference, contempt or hostility. Bet you didn’t know that, did you? You did? Maybe it’s not news at all, then.
You believe in a Creator? How naïve. You still hold to the ethics and moral teachings of the Bible? Rather old-fashioned, aren’t you? You somehow think Christianity is better than other religions, that the only way to get to heaven is through that man, Jesus? You are so exclusionary, closeminded and bigoted.
Such is the sentiment of much of the world in which we live. How, then, do we as Christians respond to such attitudes? Seminary professor and provost Jason Duesing suggests in “Mere Hope” that many believers adopt what he calls “Evangelical Stoicism,” a philosophy of coping that results in “hunkering down in the face of shifting morality.” This philosophy, thought out and intentional or not, leads us to just hang on within our culture, even at the cost of joy, faith, hope and thankfulness.
Duesing offers a better way in “Words of Hope” from 2 Timothy 1. He points to Paul’s words to Timothy that we have not been given a “spirit of fear” (v. 7). Despite writing from prison where a hostile culture had placed him, Paul sought to encourage Timothy to live in victory rather than resignation. As with Timothy, such victory begins by not being “ashamed of the testimony about our Lord” (v. 8). An unashamed approach in a hostile culture could cause us to “share in suffering for the Gospel” as did Paul (v. 8). What a contrast to hunkering down and hanging on!
To make the change from hunkering down to sharing in suffering, we must recognize and live by the truth that God “has saved us … according to His own purpose and grace” (v. 9). When we are “persuaded that He is able” (v. 12) to accomplish His purposes in and through us, regardless of the attitude or hostility of our culture, then we too can experience the victory Paul sought for Timothy.
MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at www.Lifeway.com/masterwork.