Today's lectionary reading comes from 2 Timothy 1:1-9....
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my beloved child:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace.As a person called to the pastorate, 2 Timothy has long been a favorite biblical book of mine. I think of how young Timothy, left in Ephesus to care for a challenging church, would have been encouraged by the words of his aging mentor and father in the faith, Paul. Grace, mercy, and peace, were just the gifts he needed to face the challenge of leading a church in the midst of a culture devoted to another deity, the goddess Diana.
As a form of encouragement, Paul reminds Timothy of his godly heritage. We learn from the book of Acts that Timothy's father was a Greek and his mother was a Jew. So it was from his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois that he learned the faith. What a tremendous opportunity parents and grandparents have to pass on the faith to their children and grandchildren! In fact, I think it is the best way to pass on faith known to humanity. We have countless hours with our children, over the course of at least 18 years in our culture, to pass on faith to them in so many ways, in deed as well as in word.
Paul reminds Timothy to stir up his God given gift. Each of us as Christians have a spiritual gift, or maybe more than one, given to us by God. This is the source of our strength in ministry, not our own faulty human resources. We need to constantly rekindle the gifts that God has given to us by devoting ourselves to the means of grace: prayer, Scripture, the breaking of the bread, and the fellowship of the Church (Acts 2:42).
I find that very often in life, and even in church life, we are tempted to live according to fear, rather than faith. We don't make certain moves of faith in the church because we are afraid of how others react. This is not how we are called to act and live as Christian leaders. As Paul says, "God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline."
Therefore, rather than being ashamed of the good news about Jesus, we need to go on boldly proclaiming it, taking whatever suffering comes as a result, and handling it in the power of God.