(Continued – message on the mission/vision of Southside Baptist Church from June 2015. First point is that if we are going to shape lives through discipleship, we must be saved. If you need more information on this, read yesterday’s post.)
If we are going to shape lives through discipleship, we must be strengthened. Look at 2 Timothy 2:1. Understand this morning, this is not a suggestion, it is a command and carries with it the authority of God. But Paul does something here that is very meaningful. This Greek verb he uses is actually in the passive voice, so it’s more accurately translated, “Let yourself be strengthened” or “be empowered” (Marshall 724). I was looking for a way to illustrate this point, and what I realized is that most of us think that being strong is like a body builder, working out and building muscles. But that isn’t it. In other words, you don’t get spiritually strong by trying harder or drawing from your own strength. Being strong in this sense is not a matter of gritting your teeth and flexing your biceps. This kind of strength comes from outside of ourselves. Yes, it comes from the grace found in Jesus Christ, but it also comes from other Christians pouring their lives into us. Simply stated, if we want to shape lives through discipleship, we need to find our strength in God’s resources.
As Christians, we are more like a power tool with an electrical plug. When we’re plugged into God and his resources, those resources flow into our lives to empower us to do that which we could not do on our own. The love we need to care about people, the patience we need when we’re frustrated, the courage we need in the face of fear, the strength to shape the lives of others — all these things come from being plugged into God’s grace. Lives that don’t plug into God’s grace won’t have the resources to make a difference.
Lives that refuse to plug into God’s grace are self-sufficient lives, lives that rely on self and ego. It takes humility to admit that we’ve sinned against God and to trust in Christ for our salvation, but until we do that we can’t plug into God’s grace. We’ll find ourselves being like a power saw trying to cut wood without a power supply. Only lives that are empowered with God’s resources will shape lives through discipleship. So listen to me. We find God’s resources through His grace and our worship.
That’s one reason why we meet together each week, to be empowered by God’s grace. To admit that we can’t do it alone, that we need God’s powerful grace operating in our lives to be the kind of people God wants us to be. Our worship breaks the spell of self sufficiency, so we can embrace a sense of God’s sufficiency.
If we are going to shape lives through discipleship, then we must show others the way. Do you remember in the book of Acts that before they were called Christians, disciples were called “followers of the Way.” That’s a good way of putting it, because not only is Jesus the Way, the life we live is about showing others the Way. You see, it’s all about making disciples (2 Tim 2:2). It may help if you remember that the author of this letter, Paul, is in a Roman prison cell. He knows the time of his execution is nearing, that his life on this earth has reached its end. Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to help the church in Ephesus recover from a major crisis. So Timothy is in Ephesus when he gets this letter. But now there’s a bigger crisis: Paul’s impending death. So in chapter 4 of this letter Paul is going to ask Timothy to come to Rome quickly, so they can be together one last time before Paul’s execution. This places an urgency in Paul’s actions, so here in v. 2 Paul gives Timothy a plan for how to help the church in Ephesus before he leaves for Rome. The command in v. 2 is to “entrust.”
Notice the four generations mentioned here. It began with Paul, who was chosen by Jesus to be an apostle. Paul had a message that he communicated consistently wherever he went throughout his ministry. This message was passed on to Timothy. In the previous chapter Paul described his teaching as a treasure that’s been entrusted to Timothy to guard. Now Timothy needs to find reliable people to entrust this message to. A reliable person is someone who will keep the message intact, someone who won’t add to it or take anything away from it. It’s someone who will hold on to the message, preserving its integrity. Yet these reliable people must also be able to teach others. And ultimately they too will have to pass the message on to another generation, so they must be equipped to find reliable people in the next generation they can pass the message on to.
Now the immediate context is the preservation of the Christian message in the church in Ephesus after Paul dies. Yet we also find a principle here that applies to shaping the lives of others: we need to multiply our influence through other people. Philippians 1:14 – Paul in prison, others encouraged to share because of it.
We multiply our influence through our children. Although we must resist the urge to project our own dreams onto our kids, we multiply our influence by instructing our kids in biblical values and equipping them to live Christ centered lives. In fact, part of the legacy we leave our world is our children and grandchildren.
We also multiply our influence through our involvement in Christian service. Whether it’s by serving as a volunteer in our youth program, serving in children’s ministry, or leading a small group, we multiply our influence through other people. If you want to make disciples, you’ll need to multiply your influence through other people.