In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1-2
The Apostle Paul is likely in an imposed social quarantine (he is under arrest) in Rome when he writes these words to his younger colleague Timothy. The world at that time had become dangerous and the temptation to surrender to a spirit of timidity (1:7) seemed very reasonable. Paul challenges Timothy, in what may be his final biblical correspondence, to not wait for a convenient time to live as a Christian. To be a follower and believer of Jesus Christ means that we trust in God’s will and judgement and in fact put all our eggs in that basket. Jesus’ challenge about the pursuit of “saving our own lives” is not celebration (Mark 8:35). He does not say “well done, good and faithful servant,” if we simply hunker down, with buried talents and an abundance of toilet paper. Rather, our Lord proclaims that saving ourselves results in losing ourselves. Being a Jesus follower is not a means to another end (even the end of going to Heaven someday), it is a full commitment to the truth that is beyond any of our desired ends.
God is God! The Lord Jesus Christ is, was and will always be the fullness of God. Our task is not to be creative and clever with regard to personal piety as a vehicle to enhance our material lives. It is to love God with everything we have, and to do that every day for all our days. This is a high calling, and one that I have never attained, but that does not change the call. We are to persist in living for Jesus Christ, to love in his name, in the midst of health concerns, political divides, and social isolation.
Our current season has some obstacles to be sure, but as Paul says the word of God is not chained (2:9). I invite you to pray, post, call, and with intentional discernment deliver outward and visible signs of the hope you have in Christ Jesus. I also invite you to make a special effort to inform and grow that hope. There are and will be live online bible studies, blogs, and support groups. Join the network of people who make phone calls, text, and email reminding all that “this is the day the Lord has made, and we are to rejoice and be glad in it.” If you find something helpful or encouraging, share it. My video messages which will be posted by 8 am on Sunday mornings as a part of the Jesse Lee Memorial service and this week will focus on “Expressions of faith in the midst of anxiety.” This is the season, trust that “God is able to guard until the day what God has entrusted to you.” Peace, Bill