Our Lectio Divina for today:
I hope to visit you soon, but just in case I’m delayed, I’m writing this letter so you’ll know how things ought to go in God’s household, this God-alive church, bastion of truth. This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are clear enough: (Jesus) appeared in a human body, was proved right by the invisible Spirit, was seen by angels. He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples, believed in all over the world, taken up into heavenly glory. I’m charging you before the life-giving God and before Christ, who took his stand before Pontius Pilate and didn’t give an inch: Keep this command to the letter, and don’t slack off. Our Master, Jesus Christ, is on his way. He’ll show up right on time, his arrival guaranteed by the Blessed and Undisputed Ruler, High King, High God. He’s the only one death can’t touch, his light so bright no one can get close. He’s never been seen by human eyes—human eyes can’t take him in! Honor to him, and eternal rule! Oh, yes. 1st Timothy 3: 14-16, 1st Timothy 6: 13-16 (MsgB)
If you’ve been with us this week, you know that we’re looking a bit deeper into Paul’s two letters to his spiritual son, Timothy, attempting to recover, if we can, the core message of Christianity, as defined by the well-aged apostle. In other words, after nearly two thousand years of church history, it’s very likely that we pastoral leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ have added-on our fair share of words to this kalós, this precious treasure, Paul is so desperately desiring to pass on to his apprentice. Thus far, we’ve uncovered two key themes this week. Let me summarize them here for you today:
God wants every human being on earth to be rescued. Jesus of Nazareth is His chosen instrument for that work of salvation. This “message” is our message and we explain it best by modeling a Christ-centered life of simple faith and plain truth. 1st Timothy 1: 15a; 1st Timothy 2: 4-7
Jesus Christ. Son of David. Crucified. Raised from the dead! 2nd Timothy 2: 8-13
As I see it, in today’s Lectio Divina (1st Timothy 3: 14-16 and 1st Timothy 6: 13-16), Paul seems to reveal one final piece to our puzzle, completing for us his set of foundational truths that simply cannot be removed if we want to remain faithful to all the early church believed about God’s precious Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Let’s restate Paul’s words here, one more time:
(Jesus) appeared in a human body, was proved right by the invisible Spirit, was seen by angels. He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples, believed in all over the world, taken up into heavenly glory. 1st Timothy 3: 16
I’m charging you before the life-giving God and before Christ, who took his stand before Pontius Pilate and didn’t give an inch: Keep this command to the letter, and don’t slack off. Our Master, Jesus Christ, is on his way. He’ll show up right on time, his arrival guaranteed by the Blessed and Undisputed Ruler, High King, High God. He’s the only one death can’t touch, his light so bright no one can get close. He’s never been seen by human eyes—human eyes can’t take him in! Honor to him, and eternal rule! Oh, yes. 1st Timothy 6: 13-16
Hmm. Sound vaguely familiar?
While some might say that these finer details about the Master are secondary facts, I beg to differ and wonder, in fact, if these words of Paul, written to his son Timothy around AD 65, provided some of the earliest foundational planks for what would eventually become (by the 4th century) The Apostle’s Creed?
Do you remember these powerful truths set out for us by the early church?
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again; He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
I wonder what might happen in our society today, if the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ decided to return and restore itself back to some of these simple, core messages found in Paul’s letters to Timothy? As the apostle states here in today’s passage, there are some things that are clear enough, so why do you and I feel it necessary to experiment with the original recipe?
Imagine with me, for a moment, what it might look like if more of us in pastoral ministry would strip away the unnecessary verbiage we’ve added to the basic message of Christianity and focus instead on these ancient truths about Jesus?
Or maybe a more pertinent question here might be, what strongholds are keeping us from doing just that? Are we afraid that our audience might not appreciate a return to these golden oldies? Are we so geared toward preaching and teaching seeker-sensitive messages that we ignore the notion that Jesus, Himself, just might not want to identify Himself with some of the words we are using to describe Him?
Well, enough hard questions for today. Let’s close this section on finding our core message by simply reminding ourselves of these basic truths found in Paul’s words and then, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us how Jesus, the Master, might want us to rightly respond.
My prayer: Father God, my understanding of true revival is when You move by Your Holy Spirit, recovering and restoring us to ancient truths that, for one reason or another, have been lost or covered over by lessor truths. As I read Paul’s passionate words to Timothy, I ask You, Jesus, to bring these foundational words, this core message of the Christian faith, back into my life and my work. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: As we’ve uncovered some of Paul’s core message to his son Timothy, which parts of these important themes are missing in the words I’m using when talking to others about the Christian faith? What will it look like in my life as I invite God to recover and restore these foundational truths to my core message?
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