“I entrust to you Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith” (1 Timothy 1:18-19).
In his 2nd letter to Timothy, Paul uses himself as an example, for he had fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:7-8). Paul was writing during a period of transition and crisis.
Seasons of transition
We also are to fight, contend for, be alert to and keep believing in God and his promises to us. Like Paul, we are living in a time of crisis; both social and economic crisis, where the god of mammon has proven to be fickle and not worthy of our trust.
There is also a crisis of biblical faith today. Several voices call out during such times. The internet gives people access to multitude of ideas. As the gospel spread and churches were planted, Paul was clearly aware of issues that could take Timothy ever so slightly off course. A fraction of an inch off course today leads to miles down range.
Doctrinal issues arise in our world today. I have a friend who has planted several churches and is presently planting in Seattle. He now leads a family of churches. He had been a part of a family of churches that had lost their way following the death of their founder. Doctrinal issues that are more politically correct were adopted and a floodgate of issues arose for this group. Amid that trial years ago, he was in great pain when he phoned me in order to process the steps he needed to take to leave that movement.
Paul feels the weight of this period of transition. He sensed his need to be a spiritual father to young leaders like Timothy; to encourage, exhort, instruct and remind them to remain true to “the faith” and to “fight the good fight” of faith.
The baton pass
We are aware as a movement of our own transition as pioneering, foundation-laying fathers have, are and will pass the baton on to the next generation of leaders.
We are in a place similar to Paul and his instruction to Timothy. Fathers must mentor and instruct spiritual sons in values and foundations. Our present time is not unlike the time in which Paul penned this letter. We also experience many voices calling out to us. Multiple attractive voices offer alternative styles and emphasis, with systems and methods that appeal for the present and emerging generations of leaders.
Maintaining and embracing
We should have a passion to constantly learn from the wider body of Christ and a flexible wineskin to embrace new methods in order to be culturally relevant. However we must guard our distinctive shape and remember the prophecies from God. Our values of Word and Spirit, Grace as a foundation, our Holy Spirit expression, Ephesians 4 apostolic leadership, our view of church as a community of God’s presence and the source and vehicle of mission must remain.
We believe the expression of Jesus (as given in scripture) along with the activity of the Holy Spirit continues. We are not cessationists in doctrine or practice. Practice is the apologetic for what we say we believe.
Along with this, we should embrace the wider body and receive from others who have excelled where we have not. We are seekers and want to continue to learn from others. We have fought and battled, bled and paid a price for our biblical convictions and practice. We have also enjoyed God’s favor. When receiving from others, many are certainly capable of knowing the difference between the baby and bathwater. A foundation is under us.