Monday, June 02, 2014

An invitation to hazards -2nd Timothy 1:8-18

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me —  the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day — and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus." (2 Timothy 1:8-18)
A life of service to God is a life fraught with many hazards. While there are many dangers from those who are enemies of the cross, there are also hazards from other believers that we must also endure. Here Paul mentions two such hazards: the hazard of personal rejection and the hazard of the rejection of our message and our service. When Paul was sentenced to prison, there were some believers who turned away from him, ashamed of his chains, afraid of his association. However, before we declare our innocence in stating that we would never do such a thing, let us remember those who also have been wrongly slandered and even wrongfully imprisoned for their faith. We can often be quick to turn away and "kick them to the curb" as we distance ourselves from them lets we too reap some of their pain by our association with them. King Solomon said, "Wealth adds many friends, but a poor man is separated from his friend." (Proverbs 19:4) When your ministry is going well, everyone wants to be your friend, but when it is going badly, a true friend is hard to find.

Paul also faced the pain of those to whom he brought the Gospel yet were so quick to turn away and reject him and his message for another "gospel." Paul loved the people he served and it pained him to see them turn away and reject him so thoroughly. It is unclear exactly why Asia turned away from Paul, certainly his chains had something to do with it, but it seem likely to me that also Phygelus and Hermogenes, and their teachings, had something to do with it. It wasn't just the loss of his reputation that pained Paul, but the loss of friends. We can see this in his appreciation for Onesiphorus who remained a true friend and brother even when Paul was "in chains." John faced a similar situation when he wrote, "Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church." (3 John 9-10)

A life of service to God is a life that is full of dangers but it is this very life that God is calling us to. The Greek word translated here for "calling" can more accurately be translated "invitation." Today, we think of a calling as an assignment, while in God's eyes it is an invitation to a new journey. God is not assigning us a position in the church but rather inviting us to a new life with Him. And this is the life that we must now choose. Will we accept his invitation to a life full of hazards or will we withdraw and seek a life of ease and assurance? The choice is ours. However, if we choose to accept the challenge then we can be assured that Christ will be on our side for He is able to keep us safely until the very end. Ours is to hold fast to what we have been given, not to surrender it through cowardness, idleness, or giving up. The journey may be difficult but the reward is worthy and the holy aid along the way is sufficient.  

David Robison

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