A Father's Love
Much of what we learn is from our parents. In Sociology, we talked about the importance of family as a social institution. Our parents teach us right from wrong. They prepare us for what is 'socially acceptable', and what will 'embarrass' you.
I say all of this because of the awe I was left in after reading 2 Timothy 1. Paul is writing a letter to his son, Timothy, from jail where he awaits the call for his execution which happens later on in this book. Paul's letters throughout 2 Timothy are all filled with a sense of urgency because he doesn't know how much time he has to write everything he wants to say to his son. He senses that he could be near the end of his life.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don't be ashamed of me, either, even though I'm in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News." 2 Timothy 1:7-8 NLT
WOW. See what I mean? I'm in awe.
He explains to Timothy three amazing blessings from the Lord to our spirits: "power, love, and self-discipline." Then, he goes on to tell him about the challenging purpose of life: to spread the Good News (aka the Gospel).
Paul tells Timothy to "never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord." Through this, he teaches Timothy not to be embarrassed to share his faith. He teaches Timothy that though the spread of the Gospel may not be 'socially acceptable' in that time period, it is what is right.
Paul even goes as far as to warn Timothy of the suffering that he will endure as a result of spreading the Gospel. However, in verses 9-10, he goes on to summarize the Gospel for his son, as he has many times in the past, emphasizing that Jesus saved us immensely and extraordinarily even though we are undeserving.
"For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time- to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News." 2 Timothy 1:9-10 NLT
My dad tends to repeat the same things to me quite often as well:
1. "Hey, just want to make sure you checked your gas before you took off?"
2. "Hi Tater, don't forget that I got you that ice cream in the freezer. Make sure and eat it. I got it just for you!"
3. "Drive smart! I want to make sure you get home safe."
Each of these resemble Paul in verses 9-10.
The first one resembles how Paul is reminding Timothy that he is where he is in life because that is where God planned for him to be- saved. He reminds him of this because he knows Timothy cannot get anywhere without God. Without God, Timothy would end up broken down, unable to move forward with his purpose of spreading the Good News.
This is similar to the time my Uncle Kevin had to bring me gas while I was sitting in what I had believed to be my broke down car. I was a relatively new driver, and I wasn't awesome at watching my fuel range, so I had no idea that the lack of gas was what caused my journey to halt. As a father who wants his kid to be able to get where they need to go, my dad sent his brother to help me- already knowing gas is what I needed. Paul also already knows what Timothy needs in life, and so he tells him about it once more with the hope that his journey will not be stalled like mine was. (For the record, I now know that cars can't "run on air". Thank you again, Uncle Kevin.)
The second loving statement is quite self-explanatory. My dad wants me to be happy, so if he knows of something good that would make me happy, then he doesn't want me to miss out on it obviously! Paul's stance is more of a pursuit of happiness, but the idea is the same. If Timothy pursues the Lord as well as the purpose the Lord has for his life, then in the end, he will be much happier than the alternative. Parents want their kids to be happy.
The third thing my dad often says is the same thing Paul is thinking about as he double-checks that Timothy knows all he needs to in order to spread the Good News. He just wants to make sure his son gets home safe- he wants to make sure Timothy gets to Heaven. So he dots his I's and crosses his T's to make sure he didn't leave any of the main points out when he taught Timothy about the Gospel.
Sometimes, the authors of the books of the Bible can start to seem... inhuman, almost. As though they themselves became perfect people well above any standards that we could ever possibly reach, but they are human just like you and I. They're parents who worry about their kids, and they're kids who get told the same thing over and over because their parents worry.
And it's beautiful, and I think everyone should know about this one chapter of the entire book Paul dedicated to his son's future, even though he thought it could very well be the end of his own life.