Today’s message arises from 2 Timothy 1:1-14, Paul’s letter originally directed to his friend and disciple Timothy. We may not be the original audience of Paul’s letter, but we value it for timeless insights.
Paul begins with a reminder about what God provides, the momentous gift of faith (requiring periodic rekindling). The flames of faith can change over time and may not burn as bright. Nonetheless, God’s Spirit is likened to a sacred energy that generates spiritual vitality. Due to diverse internal and external factors, the light of God’s Spirit can be dimmed. We can become passive, apathetic, and a soul sleepiness may lessen our spirituality. Distractions are everywhere, and many people find themselves in a bad situation. Free will suggests that God does not force us to do anything and this makes us responsible for great choices. Our attitude and actions may either activate or limit God’s Spirit and we will then either flourish or weaken.
To encourage rekindled faith, God reminds us of the reinvigorating power of love. We are comforted as we consider how the Holy Spirit soothes with a healing presence. God loves us! Paul’s encouragement can produce the same effect today, almost two-thousand years later. We can choose to cultivate hope and vitality, which means love can achieve a miraculous transformation. Hopefully none of us will believe that we are too far gone or too set in our ways. The physical body withers but neither disease nor aging destroy our spirit. We can claim the power to change our attitude and behavior as we embrace a new spiritual life.
Paul reminds us that we are not cowards. We are invited to make bold, positive choices. Our faith has almost unlimited potential and we must act like it. God gives us “a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Playing the blame game isn’t productive because even if someone else contributes to our troubles we must still move forward. We are not meant to retreat into spiritual obscurity. Instead, we embrace God’s message with vigor and enthusiasm. We can allow God to reshape us, and we must then demonstrate our faith. This also means that we should be open to changes that will help us and our church to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing cultural environment. Are you ready to overcome the obstacles?
Regarding the mighty role of God’s Spirit, the St. John rallying cry is “We Can DO It!” The “D” represents discipleship (partnering with God to make existing Christians stronger) and the “O” is outreach (partnering with God to make new Christians). Therefore, we fulfill the basic purpose of our church as we DO it. Anything and everything else that we attempt becomes more productive when built upon a spiritual foundation. Nothing will hold us back as long as we are willing to tie social action to a spiritual grounding. We work hard on new ministries and projects and if the experiment fails then God will provide a lesson to move us forward. Through it all, God’s Holy Spirit transforms who and what we are. So much so that what previously might have seemed inconvenient or impossible will generate joy and fulfillment.
Let’s accept God’s presence and cultivate an energized spirituality. We are alive and we embrace the gift of true life through redemption from darkness. Allow God to rekindle your faith and the passion of your purpose. The divine power will illuminate your path and help guide you to a new level—but only if you choose it. Meanwhile, we must uplift one another and grow stronger by meeting challenges with persistent optimism.
Earthly winds buffet but we remain resolved to move onward and upward. We must be on guard and monitor who and what we are. We must manage life and strive against anything that would dim the guiding Light burning within us. To counter the anti-spiritual forces, we stoke the fires of faith, and we restart and activate our zeal and zest. Perhaps you’re due a spiritual makeover, involving a more effective faith style. It’s all worth the effort because before you know it, you and your church will be renewed, restored, reinvigorated. Let’s go for it!
–Reverend Larry Hoxey