Our Lectio Divina for today:
You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, He’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for His coming. God be with you. Grace be with you. 2nd Timothy 4: 6-8, 22 (MsgB)
Put yourself in Timothy’s sandals for a moment.
You’re standing in the metropolis of Ephesus (modern-day Turkey), while 1,241 miles away, in the empire’s capital of Rome, your long-time mentor, Paul of Tarsus, is struggling. He’s shackled, deserted, cold & wet, and preparing himself for a certain death at the hands of Roman soldiers. In one of his other letters circulated to the churches throughout the land (Philippians), you remember the old apostle asking to share in the sufferings of Christ, and now…that prayer has become a reality!
You read and re-read your friend’s instructions to you…
You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, He’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for His coming.
Get here as fast as you can.
Demas, chasing fads, went off to Thessalonica and left me here. Crescens is in Galatia province, Titus in Dalmatia. Luke is the only one here with me.
Bring Mark with you; he’ll be my right-hand man since I’m sending Tychicus to Ephesus. Bring the winter coat I left in Troas with Carpus; also the books and parchment notebooks.
Watch out for Alexander the coppersmith. Fiercely opposed to our Message, he caused no end of trouble. God will give him what he’s got coming.
At my preliminary hearing no one stood by me. They all ran like scared rabbits. But it doesn’t matter—the Master stood by me and helped me spread the Message loud and clear to those who had never heard it. I was snatched from the jaws of the lion! God’s looking after me, keeping me safe in the Kingdom of heaven. All praise to Him, praise forever! Oh, yes!
Say hello to Priscilla and Aquila; also, the family of Onesiphorus. Erastus stayed behind in Corinth. I had to leave Trophimus sick in Miletus. Try hard to get here before winter. Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all your friends here send greetings.
God be with you. Grace be with you. 2nd Timothy 4: 6-22 MsgB
You scour your friend’s words carefully. You read that Paul, your long-time mentor, friend and co-worker, is placing his ministry baton solidly in your hand.
Wow. The weight of the world is bearing down on you hard.
You see, Timothy, at the time of this reading (approximately AD 67), has now been placed in charge of pastoring the church in Ephesus, and the decision to suddenly leave and go to Rome to be with his friend is not an easy decision to make. Once a thriving community of faith, built by the Spirit of God, and carefully nourished by his mentor, Paul; the Ephesian church is now struggling to remain faithful to its original call. Paul’s letters to Timothy indicate, first hand, how difficult it is for the young pastor to keep the kalós alive!
So, what would you do, my friend, when placed in this dilemma?
As I see it, the kalós baton is not an easy one to carry. One look at church history shows us that for those who choose to run with the baton, we don’t always finish well. Some quit. Some walk away. Some dishonor themselves. Others don’t quit, but do drop the baton on many occasions. There are many of us who trip and fall. But then, there are always those who may do these previously mentioned things, yet they get back up, grab the baton with even tighter purpose, and run the race set before them.
How will you choose today, dear pastoral friend?
According to church history, for Timothy, running with the kalós baton was as costly as it was for his mentor, Paul. The New Testament doesn’t tell us if Timothy made the decision to go to Rome as requested by his mentor, but we do know that he did keep his word to his dying friend, staying faithful with the kalós baton, running his ministry race, apparently in Ephesus, for another thirty years!
In Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, we find this account: In AD 97, Timothy, now an 80-year old bishop in Ephesus, decided to speak out publicly during a pagan celebration of a feast honoring the goddess Diana. Apparently, this festival, called katagogia (the bringing down), was “devilish and abominable,” as the 4th century church historian, Photius, calls it, with men in masks carrying clubs, “assaulting without restraint free men and respectable women, perpetrating murders of no common sort and shedding endless blood in the best parts of the city, as if they were performing a religious duty.” Timothy, being the good shepherd to his people, chose to call out the idolatry and attempted to put a stop to the ugly violence. This action was not taken well by some of the partygoers, who then grabbed Timothy, dragging him through the streets of Ephesus, while beating him with clubs along the way “in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days later.”
Indeed, guarding the kalós can cost those who do so greatly!
So, as we close this 26 blog-session, please allow me, one final time to put into words, this core message and core work that I believe the mentor, Paul, in his letters to Timothy, associated with the kalós baton, this precious ministry that has been placed in the hands of those who go out in this world for the cause of Christ:
Kalós: Our Core Message:
Jesus of Nazareth: Son of God, Crucified, Died, Risen. God’s Plan A for Salvation, Reconciliation, and Redemption. Our Master and Savior. Both now and forevermore.
Kalós: Our Core Work:
- Soul Care: The core work of stewarding one’s own walk with Jesus through the proper care of our soul.
- Prayer: The core work of bringing all things to God, through Christ, using the ancient gift of prayer.
- Gentle Listening: The core work of caring for others through the fine art of spiritual direction, asking great questions followed by the grace to be a gentle listener.
- Life-Giving Words & Works: The core work of offering both Christ-centered words and works that give life-giving hope to those we are called to serve.
- Faithful Generosity: The core work of freely and faithfully giving away every good thing the Master has given us.
- Simple Love: After all these things, the core work Jesus calls us to is to simply love; for it is faith, hope, and love that, in the end, truly reflects the heart of the Master.
My prayer: Father God, I’m reminded of Paul’s strong words to his friends in Philippi: I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. For Paul, for Timothy, and for all those other brave men and women who have gone before me in this kalós ministry, guarding this good work, this beautiful deposit, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that You placed in our custody, I say thank You, Master. I see the kalós much clearer now, and I ask that You never leave me nor forsake me as I carry this ministry baton on my part of the great race. For Your name’s sake. Amen and Amen.
My questions to ponder: So, going forward, what practical steps can I take to join the larger cause of guarding the kalós, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that has been entrusted into our lives? Am I willing to endure those hardships that might be awaiting me, in this generation, as I choose to partner with other brave souls who will carry the kalós baton, regardless of the cost of doing so?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you guard the kalós, the precious treasure of pastoral ministry, in your life?
Thank you for being a part of this 26-session blog series, Kalós: Guarding the Precious Treasure. We hope you’ve enjoyed exploring 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 bookmark this blog’s home page for easy, on-going referencing, and for sharing it with others in your circle of influence!
*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