I do not know anyone who announces from a mountain peak the following, “Hey everyone, I jumped into a black hole and came out the other side. Let me tell you what that experience was like.” Some folks would call the authorities in order to have said individual locked up for the protection of others and himself. There are others who would ignore such a proclamation as another example of madness to be ignored unless sanctioned by legislative, judicial or executive power. Normally, the average person slowly unveils core beliefs and values to trusted others in one’s sphere of influence. This includes ideas or concepts perceived outside the status quo. It comes down to trust, especially over volatile matters.
In today’s culture, the concept of truth undergoes constant deconstruction. It is ironic that our society has become an expert at tearing truth down, but hopeless at rebuilding it into something more organic or improved as a result of the deconstruction process. What is the point of breaking apart truth for the pursuit of truth, and then turn around and say, “to each his own?” This is a recipe for purposelessness or living without a vision and mission in life. It is one thing to say that I no longer embrace those beliefs, whatever they may be, but it is something else entirely to come out of that process without a foundation for the next stage of the journey. It is like a ship that leaves the harbor without a rudder. At some point, the collective wisdom of our age said that the rudder is not necessary for steering, we will use something else. Decades later, the ship still sails without a rudder.
Now, this whole analogy of a ship without a rudder begs the question as to its ability to sail the seas. Basic seamanship requires any ship, no matter how big or small, to have a rudder in order to guide the vessel along the water. All analogies break down at some point, but I think truth is that rudder. Of course, the objections will rain down left and right. For example, who determines which truth to apply to this situation? How do we assess what is even good and necessary truth at all? Each of these has good responses, but the basic point is simple. Back to the nautical analogy, a ship needs a rudder for it move along the water. At some point, the deliberation ceases to have any value as long as the ship remains without a rudder. Many of the churches in America fit this analogy to a tee. The apostle Paul said as much in the following scripture passage:
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4, ESV).
The immediate context of the apostle’s words has to do with an exhortation to his successor, Timothy. Paul writes these words from a prison in Rome right before his execution for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because the apostle has seen it all, he reminds Timothy about getting back to the basics of his ministry: “…preach the word…” (2 Tim. 4:2a, ESV). It is a simple and profound charge that cuts through the red tape of ministry and running a church. The word of Christ gave Paul and Timothy new life in their savior (1 Tim. 6:12 & 2 Tim. 1:1, ESV). It gives new life to the church, which is the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27, ESV). Because the people of God have this new life within them and hence within the church, she is to be a giver of this new life to the surrounding people, cultures, societies and nations (Matthew 5:14-16 & Philippians 2:14-16, ESV).
Basically, the people of God and the church have been given the truth through the Word of God, who is the Messiah, by the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We have a rudder to guide our ship unlike the culture; however, Paul’s words to Timothy, his young protege, warn about a time coming when God’s people and the church will reject the rudder just like the surrounding cultures, societies, and nations. The apostle states without equivocation that “[people] will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:4, ESV). In the Greek language, myth has a variety of uses, but in this context it refers to falsehood or wrong beliefs. According to the apostle Paul, God’s people and the church allow the surrounding culture to shape and guide it rather than God and his word. This is what it means to wander off into myths, or to put it more succinctly, to exchange God and his truth for the false wisdom of mankind. Instead of being in the world and not of it, the people of God and the church become of the world while in it.