I love being part of the church. The church is good at celebration and I enjoy that. In this country we have a wealth of Christian conferences with amazing worship bands, fabulous lighting and production teams, inspirational speakers, stories of God’s amazing works across the world. There’s the Big Church Day Out, the Bishop’s Picnic, Spring Harvest, New Wine, the One Event etc. We have the opportunity to be involved in lots of uplifting, exciting events.
And that’s all good. Better than good. But it’s not the whole story of the Christian life.
These are some of Paul’s last recorded words to the younger Timothy and they give a very personal insight into the Apostle’s own experience of walking and working in the Kingdom.
‘I have fought the fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’ (v. 7)
The picture we have is one of endurance, of perseverance and of overcoming in the face of challenge.
And this is the theme of his final advice to Timothy:
‘Keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry’ (v.5)
Keep going, Timothy, get the job done.
Those places of corporate celebration, joy and laughter in God’s presence are great. And our faith is strengthened as we encounter God together and enter into times of intimacy and glory with Him. But like Jesus, Peter, James and John returning back down the mountain where Jesus had just been transfigured, the situation on the ground was very different! Immediately they were faced with a host of problems that needed sorting out.
We see in our passage today that it’s not been an easy time for Paul. Apart from his concern about the future corrupt teaching of the Word of God – Demas, amongst others, has deserted him, Alexander has opposed him, Trophimus is sick and he’s recently escaped being sent to the lions.
Life isn’t all honey. God calls us to be overcomers. That means there will be things to overcome. Let’s enjoy the amazing times of the Christian life but also be those who keep their head in all the other times - ‘those who endure and by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality’ (Romans 2 v 7).
Dear Father, Thank you that you give me all the resources I need through your Word and the Holy Spirit to finish the race you set before me and run it with endurance and confidence in You. Amen.