Dealing with other people isn’t always easy. But it is necessary in the church, especially for those who preach. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul gives some instruction to the young evangelist in how to relate to Christians of different ages and genders, and we would all do well to pay attention to it.
Despite Peter’s courage at moments prior to the trial of Jesus, he is overcome with fear as Jesus stands before the High Priest. Though he had said he was willing to die for Jesus, and even tried to kill for Him, when he was given the opportunity to stand up and defend the Savior, Peter backed down out of fear.
In a time when we are riddled with division and lies, now more than ever Christians need to make sure we are people who are dedicated to both love and the truth. We cannot be the salt of the earth and the light of the world if we are not loving, nor can we fulfill that calling if we are overcome by lies. It’s time for the church to decide what influence we want to leave on the world.
For months toward the end of 2020, the same desires were being expressed by so many of us. “Let’s just finish with this year and move on to 2021.” Friends, the Sunday on which this article is published is day 10 of 2021, and I’d like to share a few observations from the first week and a half of this new year.
First of all, and this should come as no surprise, COVID-19 is still here. In fact, the United States saw some of the worst days since the pandemic began, with record numbers across the country of both new positive tests and deaths due to the virus. Already three events that I was greatly looking forward to (two in February and one in March) have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Thankfully vaccines have begun to be administered to those on the front lines and those who are most vulnerable, and we can only pray and trust that better days are ahead. But for now, we’re still dealing with this deadly virus.
Secondly, political division still exists in this nation, and at levels not seen in our nation (in my opinion) since the 1860s. Nine months ago, we were “all in this together.” The events at the Capitol building on January 6 proved just how bad the divide has gotten, and there are many, on all sides, who are responsible for it. I expect that ten days from now, on January 20, 2021, the inauguration of a new president will not change any of that. Many will continue living with an “us vs. them” mentality. Again, we can (and should) pray for peace, and we should strive to be peacemakers. But at least for today, that division continues.
Third, the sins of racism and bigotry are still alive and well in our world. I wish I could say that they were not. That there are people in this world who will hate a fellow human being, simply because they look different is mind-boggling. Yet this is the world we live in, and given our history, I’m afraid it will not be going away. While we can try to teach others the errors of this kind of thinking, ultimately it is up to each individual to make sure that he or she is fulfilling the Lord’s command to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
These words haven’t been easy to write. Several times since I began typing them I have thought about just erasing them, and completely abandoning this idea. I don’t like to be negative. But I kept writing because I want to remind us of this fact. Our hope is not in a new calendar year, or in politicians, or even in a vaccine. Our hope is in the Living God, and Jesus Christ who gave Himself to die for our sins. Just as the things I’ve mentioned in this article haven’t changed just because we entered a new year, neither has our God’s love for us. Neither has His faithfulness changed. Neither has the hope of eternal life that is available to all men through Jesus Christ.
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” In a sermon a few months ago, I asked if we meant these words when we sing them. Today I ask that same question, and I encourage us to make sure that we can speak or sing those words in truth, that we truly place our hope in Christ, and in Christ alone.
May God bless His people and His Church as we continue into this new year. Praise Him from whom all blessings flow.
While there is great value in using our good judgement and avoiding unnecessarily dangerous sitations, it is also important that when we find ourselves in trouble that we do not forget where our hope lies. May we not give in to fear, but keep our focus on Jesus.
– 1/3/21 p.m. sermon
– Speaker: Justin P. Sivley
– Parts of Paul’s letter to Timothy are very personal, and are a great source of understanding what should be expected of preachers. Our study in these verses considers these words to the young preacher, but also to understand how they can apply to all Christians in our own respective ministries.
When so many things go wrong, it can be easy to give into fear. But the Bible reminds us, over and again, not to fear. Our God, in His Word, gives us many reasons that we should trust in Him, instead of giving in to fear.