2 Timothy 2:1 You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; 2 and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. 3 Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier’s aim is to please the enlisting officer. 5 And in the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules. 6 It is the farmer who does the work who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in all things. 8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David–that is my gospel, 9 for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 11 The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself.
I am constantly appalled at the way Christ-followers expect to be rewarded for choosing the way of Jesus. I hear promises made by preachers that following Jesus will lead to prosperity and blessings. I also hear Christians complaining when life is uncomfortable and difficult, demanding that God provide for their ease and comfort. This is not Biblical. Today’s passage reminds us that we are to “Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus”. We are to die…to endure… to deny ourselves… and to remain faithful.
Jesus-followers understand that ours is a life that asks us to give every ounce of strength without expectation of reward. This is a life that draws the best from me. And I find it insulting to hear some preachers suggesting that we should follow Jesus because we are rewarded with comfort and ease. Christ-followers are tough and able to endure, without expectation that we should be coddled and cosseted.
Ordinary 27 / Pentecost +20
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 298.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.