Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave-traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
Now how did I end up with this passage, let alone choosing it. For even if I can squirm out of the labels of folk that Paul lists, I am then caught in the net, with “whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching”. Guilty! So there’s no way I can be judgemental of anyone else, but does it also mean I must drown in my own guilt for letting God’s side down? I don’t want to be semantic with words, but if I say I am ‘caught in the net’ and can’t wriggle out – do I really want to?
That net might just be my salvation from drowning! The image of nets Jesus uses is of his friends, the fishermen, as he calls them to use their nets to be fishers of people. It is a positive image of being rescued, saved, brought home, rather than being ensnared by the nets. Reading on in Timothy – it is about “conforming to the glorious gospel of the blessed God” As Gospel is good news, we are being reassured, that we are being restored into a loving relationship with God, in a way that Law cannot do, for we are all failures and miscreants (love that word) guilty and doomed. But because of Jesus we know we are also all loved beyond measure – forgiven where we need forgiveness, strengthened to resist temptation where that is needed, and drawn close to Jesus Christ as our model of human living for inspiration and guidance.
Now is the time, Lord, I need: Forgiveness for all the wrong-living that needs putting behind me; Resistance against all the temptation to return to those ways; Realisation of all the possibility of living for you; Guidance for all the right choices; Peace of mind to know You are there loving me through it all. Amen
The Rev’d Kevin Watson is the Moderator of both the Yorkshire Synod and the General Assembly.