Virtual Reality | Day 2
The Christian leader’s lifestyle is based upon an inner disposition of the heart, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that causes them to act in certain ways. This temperament is part of a settled habit of mind, an inner trait that drives our outward conduct. This is how the heart, mind, and hands meet to fuel the task of reproducing leaders to fulfill the purpose of Christ in the world.
In what was likely in his final letter before being executed, Paul begins by encouraging Timothy to hold to the life that is found in Christ Jesus alone.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:1
What’s intriguing about this reference to the “promise of life” is that Paul is suffering in prison (1:8), has been abandoned (1:15), and is likely facing impending death (4:6-18). With this as context, it would be easy to think that Paul’s focus on the promise of life is one based on something in his not too distant future. He’d soon leave this world to be with Christ which, in his words, was better by far (see Philippians 1:21).
To think that is to miss the point.
“The promise of life is God’s promise within the context of salvation to give life to believers. … “Life,” denotes not so much existence as it does a quality of life, life at its fullest, both on earth and in heaven. The gift of life comes from Christ Jesus to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
‘Promise’ is a popular term of the apostle Paul’s (see Gal. 3:15-22, for example).
“The reason for a reference to “the promise of life” at the outset of this letter is that “Paul’s mission is to make known that this promise receives fulfillment through fellowship with Christ.” The phrase also reminds us of 1 Timothy 4:8, where the “promise” relates both to the “present life” and “the life to come.”
Common to both Mounce and Liefield’s understanding is that Paul is encouraging Timothy to ensure that his fellowship with Christ continues strong because that is the way the promise of life is experienced as a present reality.
This truth is one of the reasons I love going back to 2nd Timothy. It’s a personal letter from a mentor to a mentee. Gone is the heavy emphasis on delegated apostolic authority and concrete troubles which young Timothy had to navigate in the first letter to Timothy. 2nd Timothy replaces the leadership challenges of 1st Timothy with the personal encouragement to continue a close fellowship with Christ. It is union with Christ and fellowship with Christ that would empower Timothy’s ministry in the world, nurturing his head and heart, and directing his hands.
I’m so challenged by what I’ve learned from this letter. That’s why I’m sharing some of my musings in the form of a daily blog through the month of February. Under the title Virtual Reality, I will unpack Paul’s final letter of 2nd Timothy, encouraging us to engage our head, heart, and hands for the sake of Christ in the world. My hope and expectation are not only that you’d have a better understanding of Paul’s final letter but also that your union with Christ would deepen to become what I’m going to call a “settled state of mind.”
That state of mind, possible because of the total Christ-event (birth, life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension), union with Christ and fellowship with Him through the Holy Spirit, is what is needed to experience the promise of life in this present life. As we’ll see tomorrow that state of mind is what is necessary to cultivate spiritual well-being that transcends any and every circumstance we may face.
I hope you can join me for this daily journey to strengthen our head, heart, and hands for the cause of Christ in the world.
Food for Thought:
How has the ‘promise of life’ in Christ been a present reality in your life?
Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments box below. I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions.
 W. D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 46), Dallas: Word (2000), p464).
 Liefeld, IBID., p. 221