"Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Timothy 3:10-13)Sometimes we forget that we are reading a private letter between a father and his "son". It is unclear how this letter came to be "church property/", but we know that, at first, it was the private property of Timothy. Here, Paul is not writing to a church as a whole but to Timothy as an individual, "Now you...". The church is large and universal, but we all need people in our lives who know us as individuals; who can speak to us as Paul did to Timothy, "Now you..." For me, it started with my natural father who was a believer from his youth, but there were also others; older men in Christ who taught me the things of the Kingdom and watched over my growth in Christ, to help me and guide me on my way. Their influence in my life helped be become the man I am today. New believers need older mothers and fathers in the faith to love and nurture them in the things of God. Older believers need new believers to remind them to be the representatives of the Kingdom that God has called them to be. Both need each other. Unfortunately, such relationships can be rare in the Body of Christ today.
Paul challenges Timothy to follow him and to imitate his life. I always find it amusing that teenagers want to be different, so they find a group of other teenagers where they can all be alike. They may not want to be like their parents, but they don't want to be different either. We are all imitators, the question is, "Who are we going to imitate?" Will we imitative those following the path of the world or will we imitate those following the path of righteousness?
The two paths are very different and you cannot follow both at the same time. One path is a path that is focused on self-love: lovers of self, boastful, arrogant, and unloving just to name a few. The other is a path that is focused on the love of God: faith, patience, love, godliness to name a few. One is seeks for the easy life, looking for pleasure without having to exert too much effort, thought, or concern. The other is a life that endures hardship for a purpose; even suffering persecution if it be required to fulfill their purpose in life. One life is being swept away by the currents of the world, while the other life is spent swimming "up-stream," against the prevailing current, swimming for a different purpose and calling, and because of this, enduring persecution from those drifting in the opposite direction. When you swim against the current, you will at time be buffeted by the opposing stream.
The choice is ours. Those of the world always seem to find a way to "go with the crowds," to "fit in," to find a life that doesn't require them to be different; often being willing to sacrifice their purpose in life for ease and momentary pleasures. However, God has called us to a higher life; to a life lived for a purpose, to a life that accepts hardship if it serves to help them achieve their upward calling in God. It's a life that doesn't mind being different, knowing that only different can save a world lost in sameness. It's a life that flows up and not down, a life that ends in life rather than death. It's life as it was meant to be lived. Is this the life you want? It's a live that is available to all who dare to choose it.