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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Whatever it takes, and stop fussing!

2 Timothy 2, like most of Paul's writing, contains all manner of things. Two of the themes that jumped out at me seem to recur in the twenty verses.

2:3 Share in suffering like a good soldier, Paul exhorts his young protege. Five verses later my Gospel for which I suffer...chained like a criminal..Therefore, I endure. The early Christian, aware of the death of Jesus and aware of the world they lived in, seemed intent on being strong in the face of difficulties. They were a hardy and courageous folk. Their allegiance to the Resurrected One put them at odds with the Imperial cult and pagan practices of their neighbors. "Outliers," who were viewed with suspicion and hostility, these Jesus Believers were always at risk.

Yet the focus was on being slaves of Jesus. The analogy of utensils is an wonderful image for us to see ourselves. We are tools for God, each with our own value and use. Some are "finer" than others, but all have a use. In the end, whether than fret about what we are, we should work to make sure that we are the best we can be (through a disciplined mind and heart and right living) so that God's purposes are brought to fruition.

A second theme, "don't fuss" is another Pauline tendency. Last we we read about the danger of nipping at each other (beware you do not consume one another). (2:23-25 have nothing to do with stupide and senseless controversies, you know that they lead to quarrels...the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly. The constant bickering of life... What is one to say? It is hard to know which debates matter and which are silly. Many times the argument begins to heat up when someone is told that the thing they think worthy of discussion really does not matter. It is easy to agree with a principle (avoid quarrels over non-essentials) but not so easy to apply principles (is this essential?). Many a church has had a major explosion over changing music or service times. In the end, we do well to make a list of what we like and what we dislike, and then remember that we are to be God's tools. One way to discern if the controversy is worth it is by avoiding debates on things you personally like and dislike....

2 Timothy 2 is full of ancient faith statements and is worthy of several days reflection. I suggest in reading it that you remember the themes of doing what what it takes to best serve Him and that serving Him means not serving yourself and entering into endless conflicts.

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