Wednesday, October 14, 2009

imperatives and questions

I don't usually rehash sermons on this blog but on this occasion I have found the four imperatives in 2 Timothy 2.1-7 to be so compelling - particularly as I work away at the interface between the Post-Christian West (P-CW) and Post-Western Christianity (P-WC)...

"be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2.1)

Could it be that in the P-CW we are too strong in too many areas? We have books and DVDs. We have programmes and seminars. We have colleges and consultants. We have money. Let's face it - we don't really need Christ in order to function as the church. However in P-WC, time and time again, the only option available to people is to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Is that united-ness to Him really the truth on which we depend?

"the things you have heard me say ... entrust to reliable people ... qualified to teach" (2.2)

Could it be that in the P-CW we are placing gospel-sized hopes in leadership? It is important. Of course it is. But what kind of leader is required? Have we started to down-grade the skill of teaching? Might one of the issues today be that people are over-inspired and under-fed? Paul's plea to Timothy was about entrusting responsibility to leaders who are 'reliable people qualified to teach'. In P-WC when leaders are needed the eye still turns to the theological college - and when the college is at its best (which is not always the case, sadly), it is a great place to find reliable people qualified to teach.
And what about 'entrust'? Is this not a Pauline word for discipling, mentoring, coaching? As one leader said to me recently, "all mission is going to become mentoring", or entrusting. I suspect this will true regardless of whether we live in the P-CW or P-WC.

"endure hardship" (2.3)

Could it be that in the P-CW we are prioritising the wrong imperative as we live in this world? The call goes out - all the time - to be relevant. Of course we want to be relevant - but is it really that important? Does it not smack of too much salt and not enough light? Does it not end up being too concerned about minimising differences so as to help people be comfortable, rather than maximising differences to help some people be intrigued and attracted, while allowing many other people to mock and ridicule? There is something to endure in the life that bears witness to Christ in the public world - always, always, always. In P-WC endurance is just so commonplace as people experience oppression and persecution for their faith. The language of relevance rarely emerges. Have we been duped? C-mon, isn't mission in the P-CW hamstrung largely because we have forgotten to live different lives with distinction ... and then endure the consequences for the sake of Christ?

"reflect on what I am saying" (2.7)

...mmmm...


nice chatting


Paul

1 comment:

Mark Maffey said...

I keep coming back to this passage as well. Paul's writing is active, in Philippians 3 he talks of having not attained but of pressing on, there is always more, something better that can be achieved. His desire for Timothy is for him to be active in doing his best for God, not to be afraid or ashamed of speaking out for God.


2 Timothy 1 vs. 3-9 – Paul’s Exhortation to Timothy – Don’t be Timid!


Timothy, I thank God for you – the God I serve with a clear conscience just as my ancestors did night and day
I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again for I remember your tears as we parted
Paul had great love for Timothy and saw the potential he had to be a great leader as long as he kept in the way
The bond that is existed between them so deep that it was though they were father and son, related
Paul was so totally given over to serving God with all he was, and wanted Timothy to be the same, to not sway
Under the challenges that came against him, to not fear what others thought but complete what Paul started
To be a leader who would strengthen and grow the Church to preach the good news, to God love and obey
Paul longed to be alongside him, helping him the bond so great he could remember the tears as they parted

And I will be filled with joy when we are together again; I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first
Filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice, and I know that the same faith continues strong in you.
Timothy had a heritage handed down to him; which he embraced, he desired to serve his God, to after him thirst
He was genuine in his desire to serve his God, he knew God’s word, stood on it, and kept God fully in view
Paul took great joy in being in Timothy’s company for they were kindred spirits; their faith didn’t come in bursts
Rather it is was constant, wholly given to serving their saviour, trusting in him, giving God his holy due

That is why I remind you to fan into the flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands
On you, for God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline
Paul knew the challenges Timothy faced, let no one despise your youth, on your Lord firmly stand
Do not be afraid, take hold of the gift that is in you, do not to whims of others give in
Stand up for Jesus, know that the Spirit that is in you will guide you and help you to understand
What your Lord would want you to do, and to say, listen to the Spirit, let your incline

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord, and don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison
For him, with the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News
The Good News must be shared whatever the cost, don’t be ashamed, rather the love of Christ always envision
Do all things for the Glory of God, hold onto that which you know to be true, keep Jesus in view
For it is not by your own strength but by his that you can do all things, lead people to make a Christ decision
Show them the better way which leads to life, by your example they will accept the Good News


For God saved us and called us to live a holy life, he did this, not because we deserved it
But because this was his plan from the beginning of time – to show us his grace through Christ Jesus
I know this because he brought me from darkness into the light, he restored my sight
That I would no longer despise him, rather live for him, to not with this world be in willing consensus
Rather that we be transformed by the renewing of our minds, follow that which is right
We live in the light of God’s grace that whilst we were still sinners he sent Jesus to free us
That we might have life, in all its fullness, to not have the stain of sin continuing to us blight
Each of us are offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, as new creations nothing can come against us
We live under grace, and by grace we are saved, let us open ourselves to God’s loving light


Mark Maffey
November 2007