With computers we are familiar with the concept of “add-ons.” The computer we purchased last year or last week is not good enough in itself. We must buy extra devices to make it truly satisfying. Electronics stores target this “need.” Their online sites usually feature a link dedicated to a staggering array of “add-ons” your computer and my computer must have to fulfill their potential and our desire!
Something similar often occurs in our approach to Jesus. We want to embellish the life and teaching of Jesus. For many reasons – some within us, some within our culture – we act as if what Jesus actually did and actually taught are not adequate or true enough for us. Hence, sometimes subtly and sometimes blatantly, we add to and even alter the life and teaching of Jesus. In broad terms, this is what Paul writes about to Timothy around thirty years after the resurrection of Jesus. Some people in Ephesus (in modern day Turkey) took the Jewish scriptures (what became our Bible’s Old Testament) and interpreted them in ways to add to and alter Jesus. Paul urges Timothy to correct this false teaching with right teaching that is known by true faith in Jesus. As Paul asserts, the true teaching from Jesus does not lead to endless “add-ons” but to love – love for God and love for others.
We do well to learn from Paul’s exhortation to Timothy. The actual life and teaching of Jesus are more than adequate, more than true enough for our world and for each of us. They are “full, perfect, and sufficient” for us (to adapt from Eucharistic Prayer I in Holy Eucharist I in our prayer book). Read Paul’s rhapsody in verses 12 through 17 about what Jesus did with his life. Jesus came to save sinners, with Paul being among the worst. Yet Jesus lavished love and grace on him, thus transforming Paul into an adorer and devoted follower of Jesus! If Jesus did this with Paul, what can he do with you and me? What love for God and for others can Jesus grow in us?