Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 1 Timothy 1:1-2 (NIV).
I’m no Apostle Paul; perhaps neither are you. Yet our purpose here is the same: we’re proclaiming the grace of God. We’re in good company, my friend, hanging out with Paul, Peter, St Augustine, Luther, Billy Graham and every other pastor or evangelist in history.
We’re here again to proclaim Christ Jesus, our hope. As my Concordia reference Bible says, that’s a declaration, not just a throwaway phrase. Paul refers to his mission as commanded by God Himself and his mission was to proclaim the hope – the promise and the guarantee – of Christ Jesus.
When you say “I believe,” you’re concurring. You’re putting your dearly held beliefs in line with Jesus, saying “I believe in You.” “I trust You.” “I submit to You.” “I believe everything You said.”
It was tough for Paul to do, I’m sure. Jesus called him to turn from persecuting the church and to follow the path of an apostle. He gave Saul the mission to proclaim Him in a world hostile to Him. He took Saul’s livelihood, his background, his career, and He even changed his name to Paul. Even though Paul had been personally visited and changed by Jesus Himself, it still must have been tough. He had to learn to live out his life as Jesus wanted him to after being turned completely upside down.
Then he found a protégé, an apprentice. Timothy was a young man who Paul met during one of his missionary journeys (to what is now Turkey). Timothy had a unique background, training and talents that Jesus could use to reach out to other believers in Macedonia. So Paul took the young man under his wing and instructed him on ways to better proclaim the risen Christ. 1 and 2 Timothy are Paul’s letters of instruction to his apprentice, who went on to proclaim Jesus long after Paul was martyred in Rome (before he, too, was murdered for the faith). They’re the basis of today’s seminaries.
Because part of the promise and hope of proclaiming Jesus is accepting the call in to His service whatever it takes, whatever it involves.
Paul knew this. Timothy knew this. Augustine, Luther, and Billy Graham knew it, and so do we. Jesus is all love and His burden of love is both light and deep. Paul wrote two letters to encourage his apprentice and they’re here for us to read. And following that encouragement can be awfully tough.
For further reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1, Titus 1:3, Luke 1:47, Colossians 1:27, Acts 16:1, 1 Corinthians 2:11, 2 Timothy 1:2, 1 Timothy 1:3
Lord, praise to You for the word You gave to Paul to share with Timothy and us. Thank You for their words and experience.