This week Pastor Will will continue our series entitled “Letters to young leaders” by focusing on 2 Timothy 2:1-13. There is much truth in this text, but for today I want us to focus on verses 11-13 which read “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure we will also reign with him.”
That is radical. The text says, “If we died with him…” That is, if we gave him our sins and died to our old nature, if we laid it all out on the line and gave it all to him, we “will live with him.” And if we “endure”, that is, if we press on, if we endure the slings and arrows of the culture in which we live and the temptations of the evil one which are sure to come our way, we will “also reign with him.”
This isn’t what we often say to people when they come to faith. No, instead we say, “If you pray this little salvation prayer you will be saved.” But I think the Christian faith is more radical than that – it is much more demanding of us than simply saying a prayer. The Christian faith demands that we put our whole life at the disposal of Jesus. It means that we give up, or die to, our old way of living for self and live for Jesus alone – no matter what. It’s NOT saying, “I’ll live for Jesus as long as he gives me this and this and this.” No, the Christian faith is more radical, it means we give up ourselves and our agendas completely.
One Christian sociologist has said that this generation will be lost not because we have made Christianity too hard. We will lose this generation because we have made Christianity too easy.
Now of course, it is easy to be a Christian in the sense that there is nothing that we have to achieve and our salvation is a free gift of grace from God. But in another sense it is hard because Christianity is revolutionary in its scope and when Christ enters a person it means that all previous alliances need to be done away with. All previous agendas, all previous goals, all previous passions must be forcefully thrown out of your heart and you must have one passion – and that is Christ. You must have one agenda and that is to live for Christ. You must have one goal and that is to honour Jesus Christ. And in some ways that can be hard because we want to hold on to both – but Scripture says, “No, you can’t have both your agenda and the Lord’s”.
Yes, there is a decision involved in being a Christian – but it’s not simply believe in God and believe in Jesus – the Bible says that even Satan does that (James 2:19). The decision is, “I’m laying my life on the line and everything I am and have belongs to Jesus. I’m going to radically give my life to him.”
Have you done that? If you have then you understand what it means to be a Christian.
In thanksgiving for you, Tom.