Our Lectio Divina for today:
I, Paul, am an apostle on special assignment for Christ, our living hope. Under God our Savior’s command, (I’m) carrying out God’s plan laid out in the Message of Life by Jesus…this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God. 1st Timothy 1: 1; 2nd Timothy 1: 1; 1st Timothy 1: 10b-11 (MsgB)
So, as we begin this 26-session blog series, let’s turn our attention, first and foremost, to Paul, the well-seasoned pastor who composed these two letters of encouragement to his adopted son in the faith, Timothy. It’s Paul, you see, who defines both his pastoral work in ministry and these same duties passed onto Timothy to be the kalós, the precious treasure, which must be guarded carefully, lest it be stolen away by powers and purposes far outside the cause of Christ.
I find it interesting that Paul, in both of his pastoral letters, begins his writings in such a way that it actually reinforces the job description Jesus has assigned to him. Yes, I know that this is the customary way that first-century writers would have identified themselves to their readers, but for me, a pastor who, on occasion, can lose track of the truest purposes of why I do what I do, these opening words reveal a lot on who Paul saw himself to be. And quite honestly, I believe these same words might be used to encourage many us here in the twenty-first century as well!
Let’s start with Paul’s first phrase…
I, Paul, am an apostle on special assignment for Christ, our living hope…
While both church history and church tradition have served us well in defining this New Testament word, apostle, I dare say the noun has become way too important in too many minds…especially when it is applied to a man as saintly as the Apostle Paul. See, there I go, using the word apostle as a title, capitalizing it as if it were to be seen in the same way we assign the word Christ to Jesus of Nazareth! Dare I say, that Paul, himself, just might want us to remove the capital “A” off this noun, and use it as the original Greek intended it to be used? You see, apostle, in the New Testament, simply means “sent-out one;” an emissary, an ambassador, or a messenger who is sent out on special assignment, as Paul says here, on behalf of Christ, our living hope.
Next, we find Paul, this “sent-out one,” defining a bit more clearly his vocational call, as he understands it…
Under God our Savior’s command, (I’m) carrying out God’s plan laid out in the Message of Life by Jesus…this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.
Wow, Paul. That’s pretty heady stuff, don’t you think?
Now, I know that some of you will criticize what I’m about to say here, using Ephesians 4:11 as your defense. But as I see it, you and I, as men and women of the cloth, servants of Christ here in the twenty-first century, can just as easily define ourselves using Paul’s language found in his letters to Timothy, because we too, should know with equal certainty that Jesus, the Master, has beckoned us to serve Him as ambassadors of His Message of Life wherever this call might lead us.
You see, whether we use the word apostle, prophet, evangelist, or pastor and teacher, all of us who serve Jesus (as it says in Ephesians 4: 12-13) are called, by Christ, to one thing…
…equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. NIV
So, my dear fellow “sent-out one;” you man or woman of God who is on special assignment for Christ, our living hope…under God our Savior’s command, carrying out God’s plan laid out in the Message of Life by Jesus…this great Message we’ve been put in charge of by this great God…let me encourage you today by saying, wow…you certainly have one special part to play in this advancing Kingdom of God!
Like Paul of old, let’s start calling ourselves who we truly are. No, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we print up business cards, as some have been known to do, putting a capital “A” on the apostle word and start acting like bigshots who boss people around! No, I say let’s humbly and quietly accept the amazing call that Paul so clearly defines here for both himself and his young son, Timothy.
As women and men who have followed Christ into His service, let’s celebrate today, the high calling Jesus has placed upon us, savoring the vocational call (the kalós) that doesn’t come from churches, denominations, or religious orders, but from the Master, Himself.
My prayer: Father God, I stand amazed at the vocational call You have given me. I’m humbled by the amazing description Paul gave to it, this kalós, this precious treasure, that I must guard. Help me to never belittle or overlook the importance of this role you’ve given me and others in this time and in this day. Jesus, for Your glory alone, I align myself with those, like Paul and others, who have gone before me. Holy Spirit, indwell and empower me to stay on course. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What feelings and emotions rise up in me when I take Paul’s words that he used to describe himself and apply them into my life as well? If indeed, Christ has commissioned us to this heavenly purpose, what must I do differently or how does my attitude need to change in order to better align myself with these powerful words that describe the kalós, the precious treasure, given me?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you guard the kalós, the precious treasure of pastoral ministry, in your life?
In this 26-session blog series, Kalós: Guarding the Precious Treasure, we explore the kalós*, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that has been deposited into us by the work of the Holy Spirit. We invite you to come along with us, bookmarking this blog’s home page for easy, on-going referencing.
As you go through this blog series, we also suggest that you use the ancient tool of Lectio Divina as you approach each scriptural text we give you in this blog. Lectio Divina is a slow, intentional reading of the Holy Scriptures. Take your time as you ponder the text slowly, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word for you as you read. Ask the Master as you read, “Jesus, what in this passage do I need to hear today?”
*So, what is kalós?
Kalós comes from a New Testament Greek word which simply means “good.” The apostle Paul, when writing to his young apprentice, Timothy, decided to combine this common adjective, kalós, with a second Greek word, parathéké, a noun which means a deposit or trust committed to one’s charge. As a result, the apostle ends up with one, very powerful phrase! A command that both Timothy, and you and I, truly need to take note of as we continue this ancient work of serving Christ and His Church! “Guard this kalós (this good work, this beautiful deposit, this precious treasure) placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” 2nd Timothy 1: 14