Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner… (2 Timothy 1:8)
People are crazy
Indeed, God sees something in us that we cannot perceive. Taken as a whole, people are irrational, irresponsible, and insufferable, and those are probably our best qualities! Praise be to God, as believers in Jesus Christ our Lord, the Holy Spirit lives within us, and He works in and through us, progressively transforming us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Yet, even though God lives within us, we struggle to mortify (kill) the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13).
Consider second Timothy, verse eight. Paul tells Timothy, his “beloved child (2 Timothy 1:2),” not to be ashamed of him. We know from Romans 8:1 that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” However, this condemnation concerns God’s condemnation; it’s not a “get out of jail, free” card from worldly condemnation. It is common for people, even Godly people, to condemn brothers or sisters in Christ if a worldly institution condemns them. Unquestionably, Paul wanted to make sure this spirit of condemnation didn’t infect his beloved Timothy.
Several years ago, my family and I were members of a community church. Our congregation consisted of people from a wide range of denominational backgrounds. One couple in our congregation was very active in a Christ-centered ministry to a segment of our society that is often in desperate need of help – I’m being purposely vague. At one point in time, the husband was arrested, not for breaking any government law or ordinance, but for expressing his Biblically grounded beliefs. What surprised me was me.
I knew this man. I knew he was fulfilling God’s call on his life. Yet, my first thought was that he must have crossed the line. My reaction was to trust the authorities and doubt my Christian brother! I quickly rejected that thought. However, as believers called to participate in Christ’s suffering (1 Peter 4:13), I’ve been concerned that we may tacitly condemn our brothers and sisters when they suffer due to their faith in God.
Let us not be ashamed
Yesterday, I read an article about a group of Christians who live in a village in Nigeria. They have repeatedly been attacked by Boko Haram, which left many widows in their wake. It’s easy for us to side with these Christians because the evil is so easily seen. But do we withhold condemnation for Christians that are accosted or arrested in first-world nations? As we continue to mature in Christ Jesus, I pray that we will be like the apostle Paul and teach Christians not to be ashamed of the chains of brothers and sisters that suffer for Jesus.
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