Hello and welcome to Thursday’s foundations podcast. Today’s reading is 1 Timothy 1:18-20. Our focus verse for today is verse 18: Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well…
I’ve recently been to see the new Sam Mendes film – 1917. Many of you probably already have. I was quite late onto it. If you haven’t, let me encourage you to do so. It’s absolutely incredible especially when viewed on the big screen. The film itself tells the powerful story of two young British soldiers during the First World War who are ordered to deliver a message calling off an attack doomed to fail and to do so by going behind enemy lines.
The events depicted in the film seem poignant to me on this day when our Bible reading uses this phrase – fight the battle well. The actual word used for battle in the Greek – the original language this letter was written in – means to wage war, to fight like a soldier. It’s a powerful word. And it’s a picture of how we are to live out our faith as disciples of Jesus. And to recognise that as we do so there is a battle on.
We’ve just entered into Lent and in just under 40 days time we celebrate again that ultimately the battle over sin and death has been won by Jesus on the cross. That God’s kingdom will be fully established. But in the now – the war against the works of the enemy still rages on. As Paul writes in Ephesians – our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world. The battle to see God’s kingdom built here upon Earth is very much on and it’s important to know that we are very much a part of that.
We see that in today’s reading. Paul issues the command to Timothy. It’s direct. It’s specific. Sometimes in church we can feel like others have more important roles to play than us. But when it comes to building the kingdom of God we are all called to fight for it. It’s not just someone else’s job who is seemingly more experienced, better qualified or who has a greater capacity than me. We all are called to do our bit. In fact, Jesus has commanded us to go and do just that. Matthew Chapter 28. The Great Commission. ‘Go’, Jesus tells us, ‘and make disciples of all nations.’
One of the things I found so striking about the film 1917 was the obedience of the soldiers. The mission they were selected for was fraught with danger. It meant going out into enemy territory not knowing how many opposing soldiers they might meet along the way, what they might find or whether they would even make it out alive. But they go, in part, because they are given a command to. They are under orders. That kind of language is used in today’s reading. Timothy, under the leadership of Paul, has been commanded to go and confront the false teachers who have been leading people astray and causing the church in Ephesus to become divided.
We need to recognise that we too are under orders from our King, our commanding officer – Jesus. What is his command to us? To go and make disciples. To be Jesus in the places around us and to the people who don’t know or haven’t experienced his love. From the seemingly simple acts like thanking a teacher for their lesson, smiling at a colleague on the corridor to the deeper moments where we offer to pray for another person, where we challenge gossip culture in the staff room, to where we sacrifice our time to help a colleague with their workload– it’s all part of following the chain of command from Jesus to us. To take up his fight against the works of the enemy through following his command to go and to love.
The challenge, of course, is that amidst the struggles and obstacles we each face… this mission can seem overwhelming at times or we can find ourselves distracted and lose focus on Jesus and being a bringer of the better life he offers each of us. Let’s look again at Paul and Timothy. Paul issues the command – fight the battle well – but he also calls Timothy to remember. To call to mind the prophetic words God had spoken through others in calling Timothy to this mission. Paul wants him to go back to those and fill his mind with them. And in the same way, we need to as well. In the midst of the challenges we each face in trying to bring God’s kingdom to bear around us, we need to remember that God has called us. That God has spoken his words over our lives. We are his. That where he calls us he has already gone ahead. And it’s the call that carries through.
Wherever we find ourselves this day may we remember that God has placed us there for a purpose. It might well feel like we aren’t in the best place right now or that things aren’t easy at work, at school, at home – that in many ways we each face our own battles. But God this day wants us to know that he has called us. That he wants us to be his witnesses to the better life that is found in Him. That he wants to work though each of us, one act of love at a time, to take another piece of ground in the battle for his kingdom here in our city, in our workplaces, our schools and in our communities .
Jesus thank you ultimately the battle for our world belongs to you and that you have overcome. Help and equip us this day to see that we each have a part to play in bringing your kingdom to bear in the world around us. That we might fight the good fight for you and with you this day. In Jesus name’, Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Timothy 1:18-20
Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.