Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s 60% Cacao Mint Dark Chocolate
Today’s Passage: 2 Timothy 2
I have a few reasons why I’m currently single, but foremost is that I primarily feel called to reproduce spiritually rather than biologically. Where others might pour their time and money into raising a kid, I’m investing in the relationships and space around me. My children are artwork that will enrich the world in some way, however small; my children are the meaningful experiences that my peers and I have through church events, service, tabletop role-playing games; my children are the things you and I learn from the entries on this blog. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best parent, but that’s where my effort’s going these days. And that’s my goal: I’m raising well-being.
At the encouragement of one of the adult volunteers in my high school youth group, I memorized 2 Timothy 2:2, and I realize now that it’s at the heart of spiritual reproduction. Paul tells Timothy: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2). Timothy is Paul’s child in the faith, and here Paul encourages him to pass on the truth of the gospel to “faithful men,” so that these men in turn can pass it on to others. The teaching of the gospel is essential for spiritual reproduction; leave it out of the process, and it’s like trying to raise a kid without ever feeding him. The core of the message is salvation in Jesus Christ. It’s the baton we pass through generations.
However, Paul doesn’t actually use the word “gospel” until several verses later. He states: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal” (8-9). What details of the gospel are most pertinent for Paul’s message to Timothy at this moment? Surprisingly, salvation doesn’t receive immediate mention. Instead, Paul emphasizes that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and a descendant of David.
Why’s that important? Messiahship. You may recall that “Christ” and “Messiah” both mean “anointed one,” where anointing is the pouring of oil on a person’s head to indicate that God has chosen them for a purpose. The Messiah was prophesied to come from David’s descendants, and many first-century Jews expected the Messiah to come as a king like David, liberating the Jews from Roman rule and restoring David’s kingdom. Paul reminds Timothy that the Messiah, despite his crucifixion, is alive and well, at work to bring life to a dead world. His kingdom is opposing Roman rule on an unexpected level, not with military prowess, but culturally, intellectually, morally, spiritually.
The kingdom’s got soldiers. But they don’t wound and kill their enemies, not physically, not even metaphorically. They don’t advance the gospel by controlling the government and legislating morality, or by arguing and coercing their opponents. What’s the mark of a soldier under the command of the Messiah? The same as the mark of the Messiah himself: suffering. Paul writes: “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (3-4). The soldier suffers fatigue, injury, perhaps even death to advance his commander’s objectives. He doesn’t get bogged down with civilian life, not with a business back home or social distractions. He obeys his orders with his eyes on the prize.
Victory belongs to the Messiah and his soldiers, who suffer to advance the good news of life, forgiveness, and resurrection. Death couldn’t conquer Jesus Christ, and it can’t conquer his soldiers, even when they die. That’s the gospel, and it continues to spread across the battlefield today.