The older I get the more I see the relevance of how the old stuff speaks to the new. . . which means that “the new” must not really be that new at all. There really is nothing new under the sun. Rather, there’s just stuff that’s new to us due to the brevity of our lives.
In my previous posts earlier this week, I dug back into Paul’s letters to his young charge Timothy. . . letters that could have been written today based on the shared cultural context and Paul’s prescriptive responses to what was (is!) happening the world. I was thinking about this as I had been preparing to preach at the invitation of my youth worker friend Jake’s ordination service last Sunday. The other day I posted my remarks about what’s most important in youth ministry. Then, a day later, I posted on the importance of knowing the world. . . the cultural context in which we minister. . . especially the specific ways that people wandered from the truth, were teaching lies, and were embracing those lies. Sounds familiar, huh?
Today, I want to move a little further into Paul’s words to Timothy, specifically the words he spoke just after his overview of the culture and the culture in the church (II Timothy 3:19). So, what comes next? Paul continues in II Timothy 3:10 with this charge: “You, however. . . “ Consider the strong statement Paul is making here: “You, however. . . “ It’s a word to all of us. . . youth workers, parents, grandparents, pastors, Christian educators. . . all of us who are responsible for nurturing kids in the faith. Culture was and is catechizing kids in the faith. This makes Paul’s charge urgent.
“You, however. . . what?” Paul’s message to us is to maintain our commitment to Jesus Christ, enduring to the end as a suffering server for the sake of Christ. Why? Because persecution is sure to come as things go from bad to worse as time passes on. You see, there were and there are false teacher who are deceiving. . . and there are those who are listening and being easily deceived.
In verse 14 Paul instructs us to stand firm and stay the course, knowing what you have learned and from whom you have learned it. And what is it that Timothy has learned? . . . from Paul? . . . from his mother Eunice? . . . from his grandmother Lois? It is the Truth.
Paul goes on to tell us that the Truth is found in God’s Word. . . the inspired and inerrant Word of God. And now, like then, God’s Word offers sound, solid, truthful instruction in a world (and church?) that so easily leans into lies. Now, like then, God’s Word exposes and refutes the errors and false teaching that advance in the culture (and church?). Now, like then, God’s Word is helpful in correcting wrong behaviors and sinful living among believers and unbelievers alike. . . and restoring them to righteous living. Now, like then, God’s Word offers us instruction on what it means to live into God’s will and God’s way.
So what’s the big takeaway here? Nurture yourself in God’s Word. It is out of the overflow of your own growth and the passion that comes from that growth which enables you to teach and lead the emerging generations.
And finally, there is another imperative coming. . . and I will hit on that in the next post.