Thursday, October 25, 2012

agonizing over cruise control Christianity

Some thoughts from 2 Timothy 4:

"3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

Unfortunately the "Christian" book stores are often filled with the fruit of this reality.  Discernment is so necessary in an information saturated society as ours.  Please test all things as Paul encourages in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 in order to hold on to the good and avoid every kind of evil teaching.  Our job is to keep preaching the one true Gospel.

"7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

The greek word is literally agonize.  Paul has agonized the good agony.  There is that worth the stress, effort, thorns, thistles, trials, and tempests.  It is the good agony (striving/struggle).  It is a term used of athletes competing in physically strenuous activity.  It is difficult and it requires perseverance and push through the pain and agony (there's our word) to reach the finish. 

This is not "cruise control" Christianity.

I love these last verses:

"13 When you come, bring the cloak I left in Troas with Carpus, as well as the scrolls, especially the parchments."

Why the cloak?  Because Paul was in a cold prison made of stone and it was getting to be winter and he was cold.  Our beloved Apostle was a man like you and me who got cold and desired his blanket to keep warm.  He had some "books" he enjoyed and wanted them for study or for enjoyment. The parchment and scrolls may have had copies of the Gospels, perhaps Paul's Roman citizenship papers (i.e. think our social security cards or birth certificates) or maybe some of the Old Testament. Whatever they were, these items were important to him.  We are not told the circumstances that led to him leaving them behind in Troas.  Certainly it was intentional.  He did not forget them.  He either left them for another to use or out of necessity had to flee so quickly as to leave behind even important things to escape with his life.

Paul was a man like you and I.  He got cold.  He got hungry.  Do not too quickly disregard the real terrors and trials he endured.  He did so by the SAME Spirit that God grants us now who believe.  We are empowered with the same Spirit to endure, to preach, to forego, to fight the good fight and agonize the good agony.

Where in our lives are we fighting lesser agonies? 
Or striving after worldly agonies? 

May it be that God refines us today and removes from us that for which we strive that is not in keeping with the good and godly agony.  May our lives be more and more defined by striving only toward the end of God's glory in our gratitude.

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