FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
FULFILLING OUR MINISTRY
June 9, 2012
Today’s reading: 2 Timothy 4:1-8
Paul was the evangelizer par excellence. He also knew that the work of evangelization would need to continue after him, and so he pastored and prepared others. One such was Timothy. Paul worked with and formed Timothy, and passed on the Lord’s commission: “proclaim the word” (2 Tim 4:2a).
What was so important about this work?
First, it is God who commands it and Jesus who commissions us. Evangelization is all about God’s work. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 4:1a). God went to great lengths to win salvation for us, even allowing His very own Son to suffer and die on the cross. It should be inconceivable for us, being called to proclaim the good news, not to respond.
Second, this work is of utmost importance because it is all about the ultimate destiny of people, whether they will go to heaven or hell at the end of time. When Jesus returns again, he “will judge the living and the dead” (2 Tim 4:1b). People need to hear the good news so that they will have an opportunity to accept and thus be saved. Their eternal destiny is in the balance.
Third, when Jesus returns, we will be confronted on how we have responded to the Great Commission and how we have appropriated the power of the Holy Spirit made available to us. We will be made accountable. Thus Paul charges Timothy “by his appearing and his kingly power” (2 Tim 4:1c). If we have not gathered, then we have scattered. If we have not aligned with God by fully accepting this work, then we have arrayed ourselves against Him. Woe to him who is found wanting.
Thus the work of evangelization is of utmost importance and priority. In doing this work, we are to “be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient” (2 Tim 4:2b). We not to wait for the ideal moment. We are not to dilly-dally. We are not to be distracted by many other concerns. We are not to go about it half-heartedly. We are not to be mindful of our comfort and convenience.
We also need to make use of all pastoral tools at our disposal. We are to “convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” (2 Tim 4:2c). We exhort, correct, enlighten. We teach, guide, pastor. We are patient, persistent, enduring.
The work of evangelization is crucial, because people are lost in the world and unmindful of faith. There are many voices calling out to and luring them, many of these voices from the dark side. What are some of these challenges? What are the varied dimensions of the work of evangelization?
* Today “people will not tolerate sound doctrine” (2 Tim 4:3a). Today, with the culture of death, what is wrong has become right, and what is right has become wrong. So we need to educate, to catechize, to form people in the basic doctrines of the faith.
* Many today are just “following their own desires and insatiable curiosity” (2 Tim 4:3b). There is the powerful allure of the world, easily succumbed to by our weak human flesh. While many are searching for truth and spirituality, they are so easily led astray. So we need to help form consciences and foster the things of the Spirit.
* Many “will accumulate teachers” (2 Tim 4:3c). They will choose from the smorgasbord of lifestyles that suit them. So we need to compete head-on with the many false teachers. That means we need to know our faith well.
* Many “will stop listening to the truth” (2 Tim 4:4a). They will accept the lies of Satan. So we must constantly preach the truth about God and the culture of life.
* Many “will be diverted to myths.” (2 Tim 4:4b). There are the esoteric spiritualities that tickle the fancy of many, such as the New Age. So we must speak prophetically and counter the false doctrines of the sects and cults.
Paul prepared Timothy. The Holy Spirit prepares us. We just need to cooperate with God’s Spirit at work in us.
* We must “be self-possessed in all circumstances” (2 Tim 4:5a). This means being composed in mind and manner. It means having the serenity of the Spirit. It means being able to move forward no matter the difficulties faced, or the challenges, or the oppression. It means knowing who we are (children of God), what we are called to do (evangelization as commissioned by Jesus), and what we can depend on (the power of the Spirit). It means making a decision of the will to obey God and use all our powers and faculties to fulfill our ministry.
* We must “put up with hardship” (2 Tim 4:5b). The work of evangelization engages us in spiritual warfare with the forces of evil. Thus there will be opposition. We will be subject to the enemy’s assault. We will be persecuted and even be martyred. The life of an evangelizer is not an easy one. We must endure and persevere.
* We must “perform the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim 4:5c). Every disciple of Jesus is to be an evangelizer, proclaiming the good news of salvation in him. He is to be an evangelist, proclaiming the word of God and the truths inherent in it. He is to be a missionary, looking to bring Jesus into his spheres of influence, whether these are just in his own home, or in a far-off foreign country.
In a word, “fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim 4:5d).
When Jesus returns once again in glory, may we see standing before him all those we have evangelized and pastored, and like Paul be able to say: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.” (2 Tim 4:7-8).
What a glorious day that indeed would be.
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