I didn’t get to teach on 2 Timothy 2. I have had sick kids for what feels like 110 years and somehow we had been able to avoid anyone being too sick to come to church on a Wednesday night…until last week. So my sweet friend Megan led the discussion and I hear it went smashingly well. I’m not sure what the group talked about specifically or what they walked away from the session with. But as I reviewed 2 Timothy 2 in preparation to write the study on 2 Timothy 3, three little BIG words jumped off the page at me.
Check out 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!”
Can you guess what the three little BIG words are there? You don’t have to read far to get to them. In fact, you don’t have to read past the first three words! Remember Jesus Christ. Oh, Paul, there you go again, pointing us back to Jesus. It seems he never gets past that, does he? He never moves past Jesus. He says the name of Christ Jesus three times just in the first sentence! I’m sensing that Jesus must be really important to Paul…you see it too?
Now I know your brains have been on Spring Break. And I know many of you have had the same stinking illnesses in your house that we’ve had in ours. But think back with me over the past few months…Remember who is writing (Paul), who he’s writing to (Timothy), why he’s writing (his last words to Timothy as he prepares for death!) and what’s happening at the time (Paul’s in prison and Timothy is leading the church in Ephesus and teaching against false teachers). Not only that, but the church is being persecuted; many are already falling away and turning back to false gods. People are confused. They don’t know who to believe or why they should believe it. Honestly, it sounds a lot like what’s going on today.
So why are Paul’s words, Remember Jesus Christ, so important here? Because in the midst of the chaos, JESUS. When everything is falling apart, JESUS. When you don’t know who to believe or where to turn, JESUS.
So often we rush past Jesus, don’t we? We like to read books and blogs and devotionals and articles about all the topics…marriage, family, finances, church life, missions, women’s issues, men’s issues, parenting, healthy living…the list goes on and on. We want REAL stuff. Stuff we can hold and see and sink our teeth into, right? Something we can go home and apply right away, checking off some proverbial box on an imaginary list in our heads. When some preacher starts preaching about Jesus, we kind of start to go off into a little daze, assuming that all the Jesus stuff really applies to someone else. After all, we’ve already accepted Christ- invited him into our hearts, gotten baptized, joined the church. Surely the Jesus stuff doesn’t still apply to us. We’ve moved on from all that, right? We’ve moved past that stuff.
Oh friend, how foolish we are. (And please notice I’m saying WE, not YOU. All of this has been lived out by yours-truly here before I ever poured it out through these keys.) I’ve had the same pastor for ten years now, which I realize is not very long compared to some people. But I’m likely to have the same pastor for the rest of my life because I happen to be married to him. It used to drive me nuts when he would share the gospel at the end of every single sermon. I’d look around the room and think, “Come on, babe, we’re all saved here. We all know this stuff already and we could really just skip this part.” Seriously, I thought that for many years. (Did you know that’s what your pastor’s wife thinks as she sits perched prettily on the second row?) Well, not any more. I have seen something that has totally changed my whole way of thinking about Jesus.
We NEVER get past the Gospel. NEVER ever EVER never. Just NEVER. If you think that you have gotten past the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you haven’t even gotten to it yet. The good news of what Jesus did for us on the cross and in the tomb and on the earth and in heaven (the Gospel) is what this life we live is all about. Oh, we’ve done a mighty fine job of making ourselves believe that it’s about marriage and family and finances and church life and missions and women’s issues and men’s issues and parenting and healthy living. We have pasted so many pretty faces on so many magazine covers and gone to so many church services and listened to so many sermons where people tell us all the things we want to hear. Things that sound so good that we might even say “Amen” and nod our heads approvingly. But here’s the truth.
Remember Jesus Christ.
Your marriage? Centered on Jesus.
Your family? To honor Jesus.
Your finances? Not yours. Jesus’s.
Your church life? The body of Christ. (Jesus)
Missions? To make Jesus famous.
Women’s Issues? To share Jesus.
Men’s Issues? To honor Jesus.
Parenting? To point them to Jesus.
Healthy Living? To glorify Jesus.
If the sermons you’re listening to don’t point to Jesus every single time, stop listening to them. If your pastor doesn’t share the Gospel in every sermon, ask him why! If the books you’re reading are focused on YOUR best life now, throw them in the trash. If the blogs you subscribe to claim Christ but are more about bettering yourself, succeeding in life or getting ahead somehow, click the little x in the top corner.
Remember Jesus Christ.
Those three little words are so BIG. Paul wanted Timothy to remember. And God wants us to remember, which is why he included it in his love letter to us. Tell yourself every day. Tell yourself the story of what Jesus did for you every single day until you understand that you can never get past that. It is absolutely everything.
And then the precious promise comes. If we will remember Jesus Christ, even though we suffer, even though we are bound with chains, no matter what happens, the word of God is not bound! In the middle of that trial you’re facing – Jesus. In the storm? In the struggle? In the valley? Jesus. And there may come a day soon that we are faced with actual suffering for the Gospel. How sweet it will be in the face of persecution, to remember Jesus Christ.