My journey toward unstoppable…
We live in a very busy world. It’s a world and culture in which people rarely take time out for silly things like comrodery, creativity or contemplation. We quickly move from one place to another trying to accomplish the needed tasks at hand so that we can quickly go somewhere else. We hurry to work, return home quickly, rush to the kid’s game or play and then repeat the same thing tomorrow.
Recently I have longed for a respite from this fast paced life. I’ve sought after meaning, time to think about the important things such as lasting, valuable relationships that mean more to me than simply helping to accomplish the task at hand. I’ve looked to the Scripture for stories of this type of life. And I think I’ve found it.
The Apostle Paul and his troubleshooting friend Timothy had an amazing friendship. Their relationship revolved around the rapid pace of the spreading of the gospel. And yet in the midst of their focused advance of the church, they were able to cultivate a wonderful friendship. It was a friendship like the ones I am constantly seeking.
Paul met Timothy in the town of Lystra as recorded in Acts 16:1. Timothy’s mother was Jewish and his father was Greek. This means that he was most likely raised as a Jew heavily influenced by Hellenism in the Greek and Roman world around him. The believers in Lystra were very fond of Timothy. After meeting him and observing his unexpected maturity, Paul joined in their enthusiasm about him. Paul was so impressed with this young man; in fact, that he asked Timothy to be circumcised, as an adult, and then to accompany Paul on his second missionary journey to plant churches that will reach both Greeks and Jews with the gospel of Jesus.
Over the next 15 years, Timothy co-authored 5 of the Biblical letters with Paul. Although Paul ‘out-ranked’ Timothy and operated as his apostolic mentor, Timothy quickly became much more like a partner, comrade or brother to Paul. Their relationship was very special to both of them. This kind of relationship seems unstoppable to me.
Timothy served as a messenger and trouble shooter for Paul on multiple occasions. Paul even sent Timothy to deal with the very difficult and trouble filled church of Corinth during one of its toughest times. Timothy’s time there was not very fruitful and he returned to Paul’s side having experienced some defeat and brokenness.
Even still, Paul’s fondness and trust for Timothy grew quickly. By the time the two came through Ephesus for a visit with the young church that Paul had started there a few years before, Paul entrusted Timothy with the role of representing him there for an extended stay. This must have been a difficult assignment, considering that Timothy was unknown in Ephesus.
Paul, on the other hand, was well known there. He had stayed with the Ephesian church for 2 1/2 years when it was first planted. It is very likely that Paul even spent time in jail in Ephesus while planting the church. Paul had also sent the church in Ephesus the letter we call the Book of Ephesians a few years before he and Timothy returned to check in on the church.
Not long after Paul left Timothy in Ephesus, he wrote the letter we call 1 Timothy as a guide for some decisions he wanted Timothy to make as well as some specific instructions as to how to go about leading in Ephesus. Paul longed for Timothy to be successful in turning the tides of the downward theological spiral for the Ephesian church. You can see his great concern in the words of the letter.
As we study together over the next few weeks, I’m asking you to explore with me the beauty and strength of the relationship between Paul and Timothy as well as the drama filled relationship between Paul and the Ephesian believers. Together, we can discover the magnificence of a gospel focused church filled with healthy relationships. Let’s go together. We can be unstoppable.