Prayer and fasting 21 days – 2 Timothy 2
Paul reminds Timothy in this chapter of many important things but perhaps the key is in verse 2. Timothy’s life and godliness have been shaped by Paul’s example – Paul allowed him to get close and see the ‘real Paul’ and what made him tick. Now he urges Timothy to do the same – to make disciples who will themselves make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples.
If Paul had a strategy for church planting and developing a missional movement, this was it! The same Holy Spirit who enabled Paul to plant apostolic centres or mission bases is stirring us to make disciples who will BLESS and make disciples …. and so on.
Father, open our eyes to see those people around us that we can bless and teach, so that we can share what You have done in us and make disciples who will make disciples.
Paul’s mission strategy can be summed up as “Follow the Holy Spirit and obey Jesus’ command to make disciples who will make disciples.” In Romans 15:17-19 Paul explains that by this means he has preached all the way from Jerusalem to Illyricum (modern Albania and Croatia). Of course, he could not preach in all the cities and towns. But he spent time in key bases, ranging from weeks to several years in Corinth and Ephesus. He was able to establish a church (an apostolic centre) in these places, from which teams would go out and evangelise the regions, making disciples and planting churches. Many of these believers would never have seen Paul but they were connected with him through others who carried something of his apostolic calling and ministry.
It is easy to think in terms of conversion – wanting people to turn away from whatever “ism” or religion holds sway over their lives and turn to Jesus as Lord. But making a commitment or praying a prayer of repentance is a start in the life of faith, not the end goal. Paul clearly spent a long time and a lot of effort with people like Timothy to form their character. Notice how much of this chapter is encouraging and challenging Timothy to godliness, reminding him of the sort of things Paul had said and demonstrated in person in the past.
Making disciples is a long term commitment to those we are investing in. It takes time to help re-form the reflexes, the instinctive reactions in someone’s life, to godly ones. Take suffering for example. We don’t like it and avoid it but just like a soldier has to face battle (v4) and an athlete has to train (v5) and a farmer to work hard preparing the ground (v6) so we have to learn to share in suffering (v3) if we are following Jesus. Paul’s concern is that Timothy’s disciples and their disciples should respond to circumstances as Jesus did, to be holy vessels that can be useful (v21) or fruitful.
Handling the truth of scripture is important (v15) but this means avoiding speculations and keeping Jesus central. If teaching the truth does not produce godly character in those hearing and putting it into practice, then it is not the truth!
How does Paul encourage Timothy to make disciples? His emphasis is not on what is said or a pattern or a strategy. Paul’s approach is to point people to Jesus (v8). Only by recognising Him as Lord, determined to obey Him, receiving life from Him, can anyone be changed from the inside out. Anything else may be no more than legalism, imposing a rule.
As so often, Paul’s teaching turns to worship in verses 11 to 13. In the words of what was probably an Early Church hymn, Paul keeps the attention on Jesus. Let’s find ways of doing the same as we seek to make disciples who will make disciples!