26 October – 1 November 2014.
This week’s reading comes from 2 Timothy 3:10–12: “Now you know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, my persecutions and sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
One of the most disappointing things that most of us have experienced in life is that when we try to do good things we end up running into a lot of opposition and trouble. Sometimes that opposition goes beyond simple words and turns into acts of hostility and even hatred. These experiences may end up leaving us confused or angry, but they certainly leave us feeling very deeply hurt. In the story of Paul’s life, we know how many troubles he went through for the sake of his mission, and even how often he came close to a terrible death.
Sometimes when we look back in hindsight and evaluate our own actions, we can understand why people got angry. Were we really trying to help others in the way this text describes – with patience and love, and in line with Christ’s purposes and goals? Or was it more with forcefulness and self-centredness and in the pursuit of our own goals? Sometimes the sin in our lives makes it very hard for us to tell the difference between our goals and God’s goals – a good reason for us to walk carefully and humbly with Christ and others!
But even when we try our best to do the things Christ wants (to love and care for others, and to seek God’s justice in the world), we often end up suffering. On the one hand, knowing that our love and care for others is in line with what Christ wants can give us the strength to endure those sufferings and joyfully make sacrifices.
But on the other hand, our faith in Christ reminds us that even though we face opposition, even though we struggle through dark experiences of evil, in the end hate can never win. Christ has defeated evil. And although we still see its effects around us today, we know its days are numbered. Jesus Christ, the Lord, has rescued the entire creation from the power of suffering and hatred. And it is our hope, day by day, that despite our struggles and our difficulties, God will makes all things turn out for the best.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis