“ALL WHO DESIRE TO LIVE A GODLY LIFE IN CHRIST SHALL…” II TIMOTHY 3:12 PART 1
Welcome Friends and Visitors to the VOC ministry website. It is a distinct honor for me to be able to share every week or so a thought that I hope you might find both challenging and refreshing to consider. Our goal is to be continually transformed and equipped to serve. (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 6:11) Stop by often to see if there is a new inspirational posting to consider. One study note. If you have the time, please read each Bible reference in its own context for a richer experience in your private dialogue with God.
Each study will be thoroughly Bible-based as we confess together what God has said and give the “amen”. Most will involve Bible word studies which I find to be one of the most enriching approaches to hearing the voice of the scriptures speak as God intended. Remember, we hear the words of scripture from 2,000 years removed written in languages most of us do not know. When you hear someone speak in your native language, you immediately recognize contextual and linguistic nuance that someone not familiar with that language does not understand. In English, many words have very different meanings and can be applied in greatly different ways based on the context. For instance, as I write just now, the English word “case” comes to mind. In the legal world, a case means a legal action to be settled by law. In the retail world, a case can mean one box of a certain number of items. One more example. In the health field, if someone gets sick, they may be said to have a case of measles. In all these examples, a case does refer to a specific or specialized action or quantity.
Then, there are words in English (and in your native language as well) that have various applications depending on the context. Verbs are great for this. Take this example: “Move”. It can mean to make progress or to bring influence upon someone. Examples. 1.) She is going to move to a larger town. 2.) The music moved him deeply. Similar, but very different pictures reflecting the different voices and tenses of the verb. One involved actual physical movement that can be measured. The other is just as real but is an interior, subjective experience that cannot be denied. That’s pretty basic but important.
God works in our lives at both of those levels as well. Both in the measurable observable world AND within by His active, sharp-edged word and the Holy Spirit. (Hebrews 4:12)
The better we construct the proper understanding of a text, the closer we get to the voice of God and discover the right response. What is a text telling me or asking me to do is what we want to know.
With that said, let me begin this very first inspirational blog posting with this verse. II Timothy 3:12. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted.”
Well, isn’t that an appropriate verse for this particular website community and ministry?
That verse has always, ever since I came to be a believer as a young teenager, challenged me in ways that were hard for me to define. Because Paul begins by saying “all” and ends with ” will be persecuted.” As a teenager in America back in the 60s, I felt safe as a believer. People got persecuted in other countries somewhere far, far away. I was safe with legal protections and constitutional rights in a “Christian” country. I did not think I would be persecuted. I was reading and hearing the text incorrectly. As an English reader, I understood “persecution” to only mean something extreme like physical harm. It does include that, but it means much more.
In fact, I was wrong on all accounts. If I had understood the language better, more like one who spoke and heard it in the early days of the church, I probably would have heard something more like this: “In fact, everyone who works hard at living a godly life to please Christ will run into continuous opposition.” Now, even I as a teenager would have understood and realized that was true. If I chose to please God with every choice I made, then I would indeed face hurtful events from others by simply being “left out”, chosen last, shunned, rudely opposed, and criticized. Yes. the idea of “persecution” in this verse includes every shade and hue of difficulty and opposition one faces simply for choosing what God says over what man says.
There is one thing that needs to be made very clear. God does not bless us if we get in trouble for doing the wrong thing. This opposition/persecution is what you will find when you act in full obedience to God doing what is righteous. (Read: I Peter 3:17; 2:15; 4:15,19)
Let’s be clear on this important point as well. The view expressed in the Epistles on this topic is precisely in line with what Jesus taught during His earthly ministry. He taught over and over this important message. “The world hated me and the world will hate you as well because you do not belong to this world. The world loves its own. But, you do not belong to this world because I have chosen you out of this world. That is why the world will hate you.” (John 7:18&19)
It is perfectly natural to ask “why would anyone treat me this way?” John records Jesus’ answer to that very question in John 15:21. “They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.” Those who do not know the true Creator God and live only after the interests of the natural man will oppose you because they are opposed to the gospel of God and His kingdom.
Obedience can bring the discomfort of feeling alone to the extreme of being physically harmed. We will explore what the Bible says about this more in future studies together.
I want to leave you with the following positive notes because God’s word to us always has a life-giving focus even when the message is challenging. Though Jesus frequently emphasized that when one chooses to follow Him as their Lord and teacher, things would get tough, that was not His last word. That was just so you know the truth about the challenge of real discipleship. He left us with plenty of power and promise to push ahead in joy.
First. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Second. Jesus promised the power of the Holy Spirit. John 14:16 “And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; “
Third. Jesus makes it clear that God has a place and a future for all His children. John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
And, one more bonus verse: 2 Timothy 1:7. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Peace within, power for godly living, and a joyful hope will abide with everyone who is walking in harmony with our blessed Lord.
We will continue this study by answering questions like: What is our response to God and others when we face this opposition? Does God allow the opposition to crush us? Is this life supposed to be easy?
End of part 1.
Thank you for stopping here. Come back soon. We will continue this study of our shared life with each other in Christ. Feel free to contact me with specific comments/questions about our shared life in Christ or these blog messages. contact:me: email@example.com