ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
EMPOWERED FOR MISSION
January 26, 2012
Today’s reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-8
Paul was “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God for the promise of life in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 1:1). We are all called to be like Paul. It is the will of God to send us (an apostle is one who is sent) in order to bring salvation in Jesus to others, thereby assuring them true life.
As members of the community, we went through a Christian Life Seminar (CLS). There was a session on Receiving the Power of the Holy Spirit (or Baptism in the Spirit). There we were prayed with for a renewed infilling or outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The prayer was done “through the imposition of (our) hands.” (2 Tim 1:6b). It was a prayer for empowerment.
What we would not have known, or not have fully appreciated, is what that empowerment is for. It is for the work of worldwide evangelization. We are being commissioned to become evangelizers, missionaries, apostles. The key verse cited is this: “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses, in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). It is a prayer for empowerment such that we would become witnesses to Jesus not only in our local place, not only in our province or country, but throughout the whole world.
So, in becoming members of community, we are called to be apostles.
How do we cooperate with the grace of God that comes with the baptism in the Spirit?
First, we need “to stir into flame the gift of God that (we) have” (2 Tim 1:6a). When we were sacramentally baptized and then confirmed, we already received the gift of the Holy Spirit. But because of how we chose to live our lives, the Holy Spirit could not do what He wanted to do. God never forces Himself on anyone. Then we turned back to God and renewed our baptismal commitment in the CLS. We were prayed with for a renewed infilling or outpouring of the Holy Spirit, already present within us, in our lives. But again, if we choose to continue to live our lives not fully according to God’s intent, then we will not fully experience such empowerment of the Spirit. So we need to stir that gift into flame, to act on it, to live such that the Holy Spirit can truly work in and through us. The Holy Spirit must become a blazing fire that purifies us and causes a conflagration throughout the world.
Second, we must know that “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice” (2 Tim 1:7a). The baptism in the Spirit enables us to courageously and boldly move into unfamiliar territory and aggressively build God’s kingdom. The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts we need. The Holy Spirit accompanies us on mission, guiding and protecting us. It is not for us to fear to move forward, citing inexperience, or lack of resources, or opposition from the enemy. Empowerment in the Spirit is meant by God to be used to assault the dominion of the enemy, and bring God’s light to a darkened world.
Third, apart from overcoming cowardice, we confidently move ahead, knowing that God equips us. He gives us a spirit “of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7b). We are doing God’s work, according to His will. We are standing in the place of God. We are continuing Jesus’ work of salvation. We participate in Jesus’ victory over the enemy. Everything is there for us. We go in the power of the Holy Spirit, manifesting the love of God for the world, exercising self-control over a life turned over to Jesus.
Fourth, we should “not be ashamed of (our) testimony to our Lord” (2 Tim 1:8a). Our lives have changed radically. It is precisely that change that we share with our relatives, friends, co-workers, neighbors. We do not allow ourselves to be intimidated by their worldly views. We gladly suffer ridicule, mockery, insult, even persecution. We persevere.
Fifth, we “bear (our) share of hardship for the gospel” (2 Tim 1:8c). It is not going to be easy. We need to give of our time, our resources, our convenience. We may lose friends and antagonize neighbors. We may be misunderstood and opposed by our co-workers. The Lord will turn our world topsy turvy. He will bring us out of our comfort zones into a new life of self-denial and bearing the cross. Suffering and pain will be normal. We are up against a strong enemy, determined to hold on to his dominion over the world. We will be bloodied.
Finally, we go “with the strength that comes from God” (2 Tim 1:8d). God has called us according to His eternal plan. Jesus has shown us the way. The Holy Spirit has empowered us. We do God’s work, we proclaim Jesus’ salvation, we go in the strength and power of the Spirit.
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