In our world there are so many signs that we have to pay attention to. There are street signs, there are signs that tell us where to line up at, to wear shoes and shirts into the restaurant, and whether to push or pull the door.
In 1970, The Five Man Electrical Band released a song all about Signs, Signs everywhere Signs. In the '97 cult classic Fool's Rush In one of the recurring themes in the movie is that we need to look for signs to guide us. Within our natural and secular world we understand the need to recognize and heed physical and metaphorical signs.
Sometimes, as Christians though, it's like we are doing 120 MPH down our spiritual journey and the signs that God is putting out for us are just a blur, something we don't quite see, and we sure don't slow down to read. This past week as we continued our study of the book of 2 Timothy we talked some of the important signs that Paul is relating to us.
These should be like big neon signs blinking and catching our attention, it's the guy dancing on the side of the road spinning his sign so that no one can look away. And the language is not just Caution, or Yield, it's not even Stop. The sign that God is relating to us through Paul is DANGER!
When Paul opens up Chapter 3 of 2 Timothy, the first nine verses are meant to tell us to be on guard, watch out. The people Paul is telling us to beware of aren't passively waiting for us to stumble across them, these are people who are actively seeking out those they can manipulate and abuse.
Paul gives us a laundry list of traits and characteristics that should signal to believers that we need to be careful and not let individuals influence and dissuade us from the truth. The piece de resistance that he focuses on though are those who do all they can to look the Christian part, but that don't really live out the principles and morals.
These are the people who look at Church as a place to network and make connections, it's a safe place to go looking for a date, not looking for the Savior. These are people who act one way in Church and another way in private. And the sad thing is, even with Paul and God holding the neon signs yelling and screaming for us to look deeper, to get beyond the nice smile, the charming personality, the paper-thin facade people fall victim every single day.
Often this happens because we're wounded. We are seeking comfort and companionship and we believe if we meet someone in a Christian setting, if that person is a professing Christian, then I should be able to trust them. But that's where the old cliche 'actions speak louder than words' is proven true. We have to be a people who discern, who look for fruit, who read the signs and take God more at His word than we do men and women at theirs.
It's a sad truth, but one that God never hid from us. In this world there will be trouble, and sometimes those that come to you as sheep are actually wolves in disguise. Often times when we are at our most wounded, our most vulnerable, that's also when we are the most susceptible.
Remember when God tells you to be careful, when he says get to know who someone really is before you follow them down roads you don't need to travel, It's just another way of your Heavenly Father saying that He loves you and wants what is best for you! Pay attention to the signs!