Training Versus Trying
Scripture Reading — 1 Timothy 4:1-10
1The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 6If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. —
Train yourself to be godly. For ... godliness has value for all things ... 1 Timothy 4:7-8
This month we have looked at some ways in which God is calling us to join him in his mission. We have wondered how we can be the presence of Jesus in our communities. Paul reminds Timothy that we are saved by grace and that we have some responsibility in the journey of discipleship. Being involved in God's mission doesn't earn us salvation, but God does want us to make an effort at serving him and others.
Dallas Willard writes that "as disciples, we are not trying to be different people, but we are training to be different people." So we need to train to be like Jesus.
As I write this, I am in training to cycle across Canada. Just hoping to accomplish this challenge will not get me there. Even before I begin, it will take rearranging my schedule so that I can train for the journey.
To be part of the mission of God takes training. We can't be part of the mission without spiritual disciplines or exercises that help us become more like Jesus. For example, we can expect opposition, spiritual attack, hostility, and ridicule. How will we stay focused and prepared in the face of these things? Prayer, Scripture reading, solitude, worship--these are just a few practices of spirituality that have been used for centuries. God does not force us into these practices against our will; the choice is ours. How prepared are we?
Lord, involvement in your mission calls for a life-or-death fight against the devil and the forces of evil. We need all the weapons you offer us. Keep us alert and strong. Amen.