Particularly since becoming a pastor, 2 Timothy has become a precious book to me as Paul’s words to his “Spiritual Son” serve as an encouragement and challenge as we go through life in a world that has become increasingly hostile to the Gospel.
In the first century, believers underwent incredible persecution in Rome. Ancient historians describe brutal and horrific acts under the rule of Emperor Nero. It is with these events surely in mind that Paul reminds Timothy to “Hold Fast” to what he had been taught, not only by Paul but by his Mother and Grandmother. He is further encouraged to not be ashamed to share the Gospel, for as believers we do not have a “spirit of fear and timidity.” That encouragement to Timothy is as valid today as it was then.
The persecution that the American believer faces is not physically equivalent to the terror of the first century, but I can’t help but wonder if many believers are questioning their faith in the face of cultural and societal persecution. In the “land of opportunity,” many who identify as Christians are questioning whether holding to the faith – with its practices and beliefs – is worth the potential missed opportunities and exclusion from “normal” society. And to be sure, if the believer holds to the traditional doctrines of the faith that is a very real possibility. Many of the cultural shifts that have occurred with violent and intense rapidity stand in direct opposition to the Gospel, and there is an active intentionality behind many of these cultural and societal influencers to remove the Christian from any kind of influence and to call what we believe outdated and irrelevant.
A few weeks ago on Worship Matters, we looked at Romans 12:1-2 as it pertained to our imitation of what we worship. Even as Paul wrote, he understood that being imitators of Christ meant we would look different than the world. How we worship, how we speak, how we believe reflects the nature of the God we follow. I encourage you, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, to hold fast to what you know to be true. The world is doing everything it can to dissuade you from the truth… seek GOD’s truth in His word. Do not have fear, for God has given us a spirit of power, love, and sound judgment. (2 Timothy 1:7, CSB)
For His Glory,