“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:1-4
God will judge the living and the dead when Jesus reigns in His Kingdom (the great white throne judgment). So, until then, we must preach the word of God in every season. We are to use the Word of God to reprove (criticize, accuse), rebuke (reprimand), exhort (urge, encourage) with patience and sound doctrine (principles and guidelines). In our society today, people don’t want to be reproved or rebuked. Most can tolerate a little urging or encouragement, but they often don’t want to give in to sound doctrine.
People today want their itchy or tickled ears scratched, in other words they want to hear God loves them. They want to hear that a highly spiritual life will provide them prosperity, or possibly even wealth. They want to hear that their sins are forgiven and the sins they (willingly and with forethought) commit tomorrow will be forgiven too. They want a feel good religion filled with spirituality and zeal that, clinically speaking, acts on the body like a drug as endorphins (opioid neuropeptides) and other neurochemicals are released within their bodies by the worshiper’s euphoria. God designed these neurochemicals to give us a healthy life, they provide relief from pain, improve mood and provide comfort when we’re sad or despondent. Who hasn’t felt better after a good laugh? That’s one of the times these neurochemicals are released. We should not abuse these neurochemicals like a drug. If you go to church to feel that high from a highly spiritual worship service, then you might be just a junky going to church for a fix. I’m not saying highly spiritual experiences are bad; unless that’s one of the primary reasons you are attending. Christianity is about a closer relationship with God, not a spiritual high.
People want their ears tickled, but often we need our toes stepped on. When you figuratively step on a person’s toes you are criticizing them or offending them. Please remember that preachers and teachers are not stepping on toes, God is. God’s Word contains laws, rules, precepts and life lessons that we need to learn from and adhere to in order to be as Christ-like as possible. When Christ said, “…take up his cross daily, and follow me” he meant for us to try to live up to his example every day. God steps on toes through reading the Bible, pastors preaching the Word of God and teachers, “…rightly dividing the word of truth.”
I am not an ear tickler, so if you’re looking to have your ears tickled don’t read what I write. I write to discern and present the Word of God, not tickle ears. What I expect from myself, preachers and teachers is to hear God’s Word correctly presented, regardless of how my toes feel after the church service or Sunday school class. Preach the Word!