Last night a good friend texted me a bible verse that he thought was pertinent to our conversation, as we often do. This one was pretty cool. As he said, he’s read the verse many, many times but now sees it in a different light through our study. Here it is:
2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
This, right here as my friend pointed out, is the whole thing encapsulated. Let’s break it down. First, Paul says he endures. Certainly, we can agree that he endured – a lot! But remember, the whole point of his letter is to teach Timothy to be like him. Endure means to suffer patiently through something particularly painful or difficult. That’s our model. Do we have that mindset? Are we willing to do the difficult things, knowing that it will cause us pain and suffering? Is what we do worth the price?
So, what is it that Paul is “doing” that he suffers so? We see this right before our verse:
2 Timothy 2:8-9 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!
Paul endures the suffering of infliction due to his sharing the good news of Jesus! Who, then, benefits from all this? The elect – those God chose before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Paul suffers so that he may preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to those chosen before time began.
Why? That they may obtain salvation. This is the second component of election – the acceptance. Yes, the elect are chosen since the beginning, but they are “born again” when they believe and proclaim Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:10). It’s almost as if a switch gets turned on inside a person when they are “quickened”. We have discussed this before. Sometimes this comes in the form similar to a lightning bolt. Other times it is like a slow sunrise. In any case, it is the work of the Holy Spirit.
John 3:8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
What is the big nickel in all of this? Eternal glory. The stakes couldn’t be higher and the reward exceeds everything beyond imagination. We hear about people with passion for a cause or people who flounder because they go through life with no purpose. What greater purpose could we have than to help people find eternal life? Honestly, if you want to find meaning in life, help the spiritually deaf to hear and the blind to see the Kingdom of God. Talk about a reason to get up in the morning!
I envision this mission like that of a medic on the battlefield (think Hacksaw Ridge). This earth is a spiritual war. Every day we are right in the middle of the battlefield. I am convinced we would be shocked if our eyes could see the fighting going on between angels and demons. We get glimpses of it when we come under particularly heavy fire, but we are always in it. Somedays we are waging war, others we are preparing for battle. Other times we are wounded and hospitalized or caring for those who are. But all of us are called to be a medic.
What does the medic do? Look for wounded soldiers. He can’t help dead soldiers, but he can help those who are alive. I imagine sharing the gospel to looking into the eyes of a wounded soldier to see if there is any life in his eyes. If there is life, he administers aid and gets the soldier to safety. If there isn’t, he moves to the next one. The medic risks his life to save others.
Isn’t this the same with sharing the gospel? We are looking for those with eternal life in their eyes. Some have this life, most don’t. Every one is dead until they are brought to life. We simply don’t know who is who on the battlefield. That is why we must look into each set of eyes to see. We must love each soldier enough to look into each set of eyes. That’s the “loving each other as ourselves” part. We must love each enough to share the gospel with everyone – even those we hate. Let’s face it, you and I have people that we would rather do anything but to share the gospel with them. Jonah did. That’s why God included his story in the bible.
Do we care about mankind enough to look into their eyes and administer first aid in the form of the gospel? In the spiritual war, that’s the only help we can provide. Some will live, most will die. We are here, right now, on the battlefield. Will you be the brave medic or will you be the one that hides? You have all the spritual armor you need. You cannot die on this battlefield. It doesn’t matter if you have been hiding all along. Everyone hides. The question is whether or not you are willing to come out from hiding and be of use to the Kingdom.
Paul is our example and teacher, as are all of the Apostles, and Timothy is his student, as are we. Let’s all be good students and learn from our teacher so that we may do the same. Paul understood the war and knew how to fight the battle. He was convinced beyond a doubt that nothing would separate him from the love of God through Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31-39).
Father, let your truth come full circle and embolden each of us to take great risk to share the precious news of Jesus Christ, your Son, to a dead world. Let us be thrilled at the thought of playing a small role in the miracle of salvation that you bring to those whom you choose. Let us consider it an honor and a privilege to serve you with all our hearts, mind, and strength so that we may serve mankind with a love beyond all understanding. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers