Jesus has enlisted us into the greatest cause and adventure in the universe. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
In 2 Timothy 2:1, Paul is writing from prison, but he is also writing after recently watching many of his close friends in ministry desert him (2 Tim 1:15). Here’s what we learn from this: ministry–being sent for the cause of Christ–is not easy but it’s worth it. As I was reflecting on the last two years of ministry, the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan came to mind. It’s the image of establishing a beachhead, of landing in enemy territory while being gunned down left and right. It’s often in these times (where, in ministry, the metaphoric bullets are flying, dirt is exploding, and people are being taken out) that we need to be reminded of the source and goal of ministry.
Jesus is the Source of Ministry
Paul begins by reminding us of the source for ministry: “Be strengthened by the grace that is in Jesus.” We need the resources of God to do the work of God. This means making Jesus the moment-by-moment cause. His grace (given to us through the finished work of Jesus) is our moment-by-moment source and strength.
Jesus is The goal of ministry
Paul goes on to say, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Jesus loves people. He died and rose again, so that more people can be rescued and reconciled to him! Paul knows that for the Gospel to advance, the mission of multiplication must never stop no matter how difficult it can seem and no matter how much suffering can arise because of it. This is why he tells Timothy to share in this suffering with him. A good soldier shares in the suffering of ministry, because the goal of ministry is worth it, and that goal is Jesus. He says it this way, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits…” or as the NLT puts it, “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life…” WHY? “…since his aim (his purpose) is to please the one who enlisted him.” The aim of good soldier is to be dedicated to the purpose and person of the one who’s enlisted them. Paul is reminding Timothy to not get entangled in anything else. He is telling him not to breathe the air of comfort, pleasure, escape, and security. He is reminding him that the aim is to please the Lord and it is to get more of and see more of Him.
Jesus has enlisted us into the greatest cause and adventure in the universe and He may lead us through some low valleys, where it looks dark, uncertain, and overwhelming, but the promise of our commander is worthy. Regardless of what we see, we can safely follow him into any danger by his strength. So, as soldiers, let us be strengthened in him. Let us reject passivity, be ready to suffer, take risks, get our hands dirty, develop blisters on our feet, and let’s do something here for God’s glory that will matter in eternity.
James Bonney has been a part of Westside Church for the last 4 years, where he currently serves as a Pastor for the North Shore Campus. He's married to Nikki and they have three beautiful children.