Monday, 24 June 2013

Petertide: Pauline Thoughts

I find the words of 2 Timothy hitting me like a speeding locomotive today as I begin to take time with God to ponder the anniversary of my own ordination and the forthcoming ordination and priesting of others I know. The words, written by Paul to Timothy, challenge and excite me causing me to press on in my work as a priest, 'Presenting myself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.'

I read that in the calling God has given us we are to 'endure suffering along with Paul, as good soldiers of Christ Jesus (who seek to please the commanding Officer not the world).'
Soldiers know the benefits of having a chain of command and the strength that working within such brings. The can follow orders as much as they can give them and the support of those with whom they stand is as sure as the support they give to others.

What we have before us is a call to Preach Jesus, the Christ, who was crucified, died and rose again. This is a calling that may bring us hardship, ridicule and suffering - but we, like the Word of God cannot be chained.

We must, like Paul, be willing to endure hardships and trials if they will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

We need, daily, to remember this and proudly proclaim it:

If we die with Him, we will also live with Him.
If we endure hardship, we will reign with Him.
If we deny Him, He will deny us.
If we are unfaithful,  He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.
Remind everyone about these things, 
And command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words.
Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.

And so the words that we must, 'Work hard so we might present ourselves to God and receive his approval that we are indeed, good workers who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth', hit me like hailstones on a summer's day.

This is the highest calling we have is that we handle the word of God and present Jesus, the living Word, with honesty and integrity - working on our studies and being open to His Holy Spirit can open the word of life to others without straying from that which is true.

Paul continues:

'Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behaviour.
This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of those who have left the path of truth, claiming that things that deny the Gospel and have, by so doing, turned some people away from the faith.

But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription:

“The LORD knows those who are his,”
“All who belong to the LORD must turn away from evil.”

Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.
Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.'

What power there is, what a call to discipline and carefully constructed ministry.

A call to exhibit patience with difficult people and to love them, even though they may portray you as you are not, just as God loves us (and we can be difficult too!).

To know when to walk away rather than waste words achieving nothing but a weakening of the Church.

To be one in whom the Church can take pride that you wear its capbadge and follow the same commander in chief.

This is our call and our challenge - may God strengthen those who have taken it up and bless and enable those who do so over the past few, and coming, days.

Please pray for those who are to be ordained and priested at this time and pray for those for whom this milestone is now but a memory that all will indeed be 'workmen who are tried, tested, approved and enabled by God's holy Spirit'.


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