Friday, September 10, 2010
Living Lives Worthy of the Gospel
2 Tim 1:8b-10 “But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Notice that Paul says God has saved us and called us to a holy life (V9). That means we should live our lives befitting that as children of God. We may not be a Paul who calls himself a herald, an apostle and a teacher but we can all emulate the examples of Lois and Eunice who not only taught the Christian life but lived the life in a way that Timothy caught it from them. That is what we should do, all of us.
I am sure all parents do not want their sons to grow up and become drug addicts or have their daughters emulate Paris Hilton. They would want their children to reflect their parents and bring honour to the family. It is OK in wanting that because God also expects his children to bring him honour. What is not OK is to make them feel small and unaccepted when they don’t live up to their parents’ expectations. That is the good thing about God – he never expects more from us than what we can give him. Christian faithfulness is to be faithful witnesses of Christ in every area of influence where we find ourselves with people who do not know Christ. Also faithfulness is not just talking about Christ but walking to show that he is in our lives. Our works must measure up to our words.
How do we do that? One way is that we should strive to be good examples to one another. Just as Paul was a good testimony and a role model to Timothy, so Timothy must have been a good example to those who came behind him. All of us are Christians because of someone’s effort. Therefore we too should make the effort to ensure that the people around us know what a Christian looks like. Say what you like, we are all examples and the only difference is whether we are good examples or bad examples. Why not chose to be good examples especially so when we have a loving Heavenly father who loves us and imparts his grace to help us live for him.
And we should be living our lives now because we never know how our influence can have eternal implications and impact the Kingdom of God. Faithfulness is each one of us living the Christian life now and not looking to do it in the future. I keep thinking of William Carey. He was born into a Christian home but he never really knew Christ. Much later while he was working as a cobbler, he had a genuine conversion experience through the faithful witnessing of a fellow cobbler. From then on, he was on fire for God and about fifteen years later in 1793, he sailed to India as a missionary. Today we call him the father of modern missions and study his life as an example of missions. But William Carey laboured very hard and it was at least seven years before he had his first Indian convert. Imagine plodding on for 7 years before you bear fruit. Today, if we experience the same thing, we will say maybe this is not God’s calling because there is no fruit and God is not blessing our work. But because of Carey’s perseverance and others like him, today we have many Christians in India. And William Carey wrote these words in a letter to his nephew “I can plod and persevere. That is my only genius. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.” Carey calls himself a plodder, one who moves slowly but surely. And if you read Hudson Taylor’s story it is the same thing, he persevered in China and because of people like him today we have many Christians in China. The way we live our lives when we purpose to live our lives as a blessing to the people around us can have eternal implications for the Kingdom of God. Is that not worth doing? You may think that you are one person and you won’t make a difference. I would like to share a story of this seminary classmate of mine. He was from India and a vice-president with an international bank but he gave it all up to come to Singapore to study theology so that he can help the church in India to grow. He had become a Christian because another Christian was faithful in living for Christ and witnessed to him. We may not achieve the great things of Paul the apostle. We may think we may not be like Paul the apostle or we may not be William Carey but we can be like Lois or Eunice. Christians who model the Christian life so that it is caught by those around them. Christians who witnessed whenever they could to whoever they could around them. That is what many Christians have done before us and may God help us to be faithful so that those behind us may find us faithful examples.