Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s podcast. Today’s passage is 2 Timothy 2: 1-7. We’re going to focus on verse one which is taken from the Message Version.
‘So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ’
It’s probably a reflection on my personality type but I love a goal. I enjoy that feeling of working towards something, the preparation leading up to an important event. I love distance running and up until quite recently I’d been embarking on a 3 month training programme for the Sheffield Half Marathon due to run this coming weekend as I sought to beat my previous personal best time. I’d been absolutely flying in training, was all ready to go and then of course the situation suddenly changed. The race, quite rightly, got cancelled and that was that but to be honest I’ve since found myself a little bereft of motivation to continue running now that the end goal has suddenly gone.
This of course is a very small thing indeed when we look at all that is happening around us globally and nationally at the moment. But I guess in a sense it must reflect that for many of us out there we are having to adapt to sudden changes that we weren’t necessarily prepared for. For many the job we once knew or did has been temporarily put on hiatus for an indefinite period. Incredibly sadly for some it’s meant the loss of their paid work as businesses, shops, cafes, bars etc have all closed.
It’s got me thinking about this week about work and how we view what we do with our lives. Work and identity seem intrinsically connected. We tend to introduce ourselves to people we don’t know by telling them what we do first. We often say this is a bad thing but to be honest – it’s quite natural. John Mark Comer – the great modern day theologian -talks about this in this book ‘Garden City’. That as God’s image bearers we are called to reflect that in our work. We are created to work. To partner with God to make something out of his world. To use what he has given us to help it, and the people in it, to grow and flourish. He talks about calling and how we are all wired/made differently. That we all do different things as work but actually our central call is universal as disciples and that is to work to build his kingdom, to help God’s world to flourish.
Today’s passage, our focus verse for today, is Paul reminding his apprentice, Timothy, of that call and to go and pursue it wholeheartedly. We will hear the passage read in full at the end of this reflection but to break it down Paul uses three different analogies– a soldier under orders, an athlete following the rules and an industrious farmer reaping the rewards of his work to get his point across, each in their own way, that God wants Timothy to press on with that which he has called him to be. A builder of his kingdom. A teacher of the Gospel to those in Ephesus and that, despite the challenges he faced, a divided church, the oppressive Roman Empire putting the pressure on and challenges even with regards his own personal health – Paul encourages Timothy to pursue Christ – to love and to serve him in all that he did. ‘Throw yourself into God’s work!’ I love that phrase from the Message version.
What does this mean for us? Well, right now we find ourselves in strange and for many challenging times. The jobs we once knew may look quite different in this new phase of life. We may find ourselves restricted to our homes. Maybe having to look after children who now aren’t at school. We might be carrying around in our hearts names of people we can’t see in person who are having to isolate themselves from others. These are indeed challenging times. But the encouragement for us in this season is that in the midst of all this… God has a job for us to do. Our own jobs and futures may feel a little shaken right now but our call is to press into Jesus and ask him, ‘Lord, how can we serve you this day’.
To quote Mick, our team leader here at STC we are to see that , ‘Every day is a gift. It’s fresh off the shelf of heaven.’ Rather than spending all our time worrying and lamenting the difficulties of everyday life right now, we can flip it in our heads and ask the question –How can I use the gift of this new day and all that God has given me to work with Him to make something out of this world?. What can I do to serve him in the work, the things that I find myself spending my time on today?
So if God has given us the gift of children, let’s embrace the fact that we now have so much more time with them than we ever normally would have to help, to encourage and invest in them – in their faith, their learning about life. If we have neighbours on our street (and presumably we do), how can we let them know that we are here for them. That they aren’t forgotten. That we care. If we have skills when it comes to things like technology and use social media, how can we assist others in our families and our communities in connecting with each through different platforms?
So, my son (or daughter), throw yourself into this work for Christ’.
Let’s hear today Paul’s call to Timothy afresh and embrace the work that God has for us to do this day.
God, thank you for the gift of this new day and for all that you have given us. Help us to love and honour you with all our hearts. That we may be faithful workers and growers of your kingdom in these days and weeks ahead. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 2 Timothy 2:1-7 (MSG)
So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!—to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.