2021 “I will do xyz” 2022 “Thy will be done”
It is the first of 2022 and as usual, people from all corners of life are telling us to make goals, lose weight, exercise, and many other things – most of which no one wants to do any month of the year. I think two of the most thrilling (and possibly convicting) types of people are those with a new relationship with Christ and those who have just lost more than ten pounds. Right? We are so happy for them but secretly we weigh the cost of that. Rather than do what they did, we choose apathy and just wish. We choose the couch; we choose being lukewarm– even though being close with God — is just a prayer away — we resist what is good for us.
This year starts with our study of 1 Timothy which has alot to offer in 2022. I’ll cover a few highlights, but a deep dig into this wonderful book is well worth one’s time. My husband and I are teaching it now in Sunday School and it has stirred our love for the word and disipleship. This is Paul’s manual for Leadership to his apprentice Timothy. It is a really good training guide. Purity, faith and love are key words.
As a woman in ministry, I am aware that this book has been difficult for many. Some have, in error, used it to “put women in their place” and at times it has been painful. I wish I had understood it more in years past. The letter is written to Timothy, whose mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois) had taught him in the faith. It was written by an apostle who had been taught by an excellent woman teacher— Priscilla. Paul in chapter two, addresses that a woman must be discipled (Greek manthano) without being disturbed. Previous women that were discipled, tested and approved would include Deborah, Huldah, Lydia, Junia, Priscilla, Phoebe and more. I am going to leave that alone other than to say that there is much MORE to this book than that subject. We can only grow if we ask God to teach us His will, rather than clinging to our paradigms. The Holy Spirit is wanting ALL to use their gifts and talents- in faith and love. Paul addresses strange teachings and arguments, divisions, and carefully addresses temptations in these groups of leader categories. The “extra-biblical” issues are what is contrary to Biblical teaching – not a discounting of studying the Old Testament or promoting women. If we do what God wants us to do there will be little time for power mongering or vain arguments. The appeal for a pure conscience and life of faith and love is the foundation for Paul’s instructions. Our litmus test for leadership in the Western world is different from Paul’s standards. We need to prepare and equip people to lead, but first we must be taught. Taught in faith and love and purity. I love Paul’s further clarification to avoid prejudice and partiality in chapter 5:17-18 (a clear and much needed word for today). It is God’s heart. Note the word “likewise” – women as leaders are to have the same standards. The goal – training leaders in the church, in spite of cultural chaos for Gods’ glory.
Now, let us move on to a much more important issue back in chapter one. I addressed two first because that is the hot topic many race through this book to read, often missing the larger picture of love and faith. We pull out verses before getting to the root of the message which changes the message. 1 Timothy must be read as a whole and not with our own constructs and scaffolding of bias. The ONE mediator we can turn to is not the newest commentary but CHRIST Jesus.
Chapter One –
vs.8 We know that the law is good —if one uses it properly. Paul was not a legalist, he wanted people to enjoy the blessings of being in relationship with God. “The law is not for the righteous” Paul writes, but to train and set up guardrails (mainly for the sinful). They were not dealing with scholars in Ephesus, but lost, multi-god systems that continued to impact the church. Then Paul shares with us the main goal, the purpose (resolution if you will) of Jesus:
v.15 “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. “
Jesus had a priority, a mission, a cause. His vision board was not a corkboard but the cross. His goal was salvation for the lost. His purpose was the Fathers will, not living his best life in the here and now. He left us a visual reminder of this purpose in communion so we would remember His work and what is important to Him. It speaks to wholeness, unity, love, and faith- Jesus’ sacrifice for all.
Scholars tell us that when we study a passage it has to mean today what it meant to the original audience. Times change but God does not. My question and focal point for 2022 is this, “If saving people was Jesus’ main purpose, what is the purpose of the modern-day church?” It does not say great media, worship, storytelling, resume building, leadership training, prayer meetings or any other host of excellent and necessary things we focus on . The main thing was to save sinners. We have heard that many times over the years, so much so that it becomes like cotton in our ears.
The word save is the Greek word “sozo.” It does not mean an altar call or sinners prayer. It means to bring wellness, wholeness, and salvation. Not just for eternity but in the present – peace and lack of stress, rest, healing, and total person revival. The Christian journey to eternity is a process and not just a main event. Jesus wants to impact every part of ones’ life. That being said, it has to start somewhere.
These other things are important, but they are ancillary to the mission of Jesus. If we are following Him, where is He going? Daily, monthly, yearly, over a lifetime? Do we say those words as a cliché, or do we genuinely intend to apply them in our lives? How amazing that the God of the universe wants our lives to be impacted, healed, changed by the Fathers love and the Sons’ sacrifice. That is good news.
Knowing that, hearing that, being led in that= requires relationship and time in His presence.
I am tempted to write about Paul’s exhortation to secure a peaceful, good life – by praying FIRST for leaders and those in authority. FIRST, priority, important. I would like to expound on that and the great costs for servants whether they are public servants or in ministry. It is a missing exhortation in our day- and our leaders are feelings its absence. But today, I want to lay down my own agenda and ideas to press in, to FOLLOW Christ.
I will shorten this blog entry, because I want this message to ring loud and clear for the next twelve months in my spiritual ears and yours :
Christ’s goal, resolution was to SAVE (make whole, healed, rescued) sinners. His transformation just begins at salvation. This is the main thing that must remain the main thing. His history, His purpose, His end game.
May our day-planners, work, family, church, and national calendars ALIGN with our CHIEF leaders’ primary goal — To save sinners (encourage wholeness, healing, rescue, transformation). That was His joy and heart, inside and outside the four walls of the church.
Following with you,
Thank you to our new and regular visitors last year and the overwhelming response already this year! we appreciate you.
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