1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 2: 1-5
We had quite a sobering scenario in Silliman last Jan. 18. Inside the main sanctuary of the Church were the remains of Mrs. Filomena T. Cang, a well-respected woman of God whose life of integrity and faith has gained the respect and admiration not only of the Silliman Community but the entire province. She died at the ripe old age of 81 years old — accomplished and successful both spiritually and financially.
Inside the Udarbe Memory Chapel, right beside the Main sanctuary were the remains of a 3rd year college female student who took her own life in the very early hours of Jan. 17. Her lifeless body was found under the staircase of her dormitory off-campus. She hanged herself with her own blanket, apparently because of some very personal emotional problems she could not handle.
The SU Church pastors were tasked to lead in both necrological services that evening , one after each other. The atmosphere in those two services were strikingly different. One was full of peace, joy, thanksgiving and celebration. The other one was shocking, sad, and simply heart-breaking. One life was lived to its fullest. One life was snatched so suddenly and unexpectedly. But in both situations, there is much to reflect on.
One is the ever- important reminder of the Lord that our earthly life is but a breath. The inevitability of death is a constant reminder to us all that we are not invincible. We are not immortal. We are here today, but only until God allows.
The inevitability of death was the overarching reality prevailing in Apostle Paul’s heart when he wrote 2 Timothy. After many years of advancing the Gospel that was entrusted to him by the Lord, he was slowly shifting his eyes to the inevitability of his death.
Certainly, there was no fear of death in Paul. He was certain of his destination after his earthly life. He was looking forward to his eternal crown. But what truly confronted Paul was the need to secure the Gospel of Jesus — to make sure that the work of advancing it is passed on, and carefully entrusted to people who would be as committed and steadfast as he was.
Paul wrote 2 Timothy while he was incarcerated during the time of Emperor Nero, a very brutal man whose hatred for the followers of Jesus was intense. Paul was concerned about the welfare of the churches during the time of persecution. He was concerned about the followers of Jesus who would not be able to stand the political and spiritual pressure of being a Christian and simply turn away from the truth.
Being the anointed prophet that he was, Paul was seeing through his spiritual eyes that the coming days would require the greatest of strength and faithfulness on the part of Christ’s followers.
In the book Can Man Live without God? by Ravi Zacharias, he wrote that in 1960, 65 percent of the Americans believe the Bible to be true.
Some 35 years later, it dropped to 35 percent. Of that percentage who believed in the Bible, 70 percent were not fully convinced there are moral absolutes.
Christian author and educator Harold Sala, commenting on this, said, “Within barely a generation, we have moved from a position of clearly defined moral truths to one of moral relativism and uncertainty.”
Many believe that the greatest casualties of this very ambiguous state of morality in the world today are no less than the children and the youth. They are living in the midst of a world that is confused, a world that cannot draw hard and clear lines between what is wrong and what is right, a world that refuses to call sin, sin and truth, truth, a world that continues to deny the absolute reign of God and His Word.
This is the passion burning in Paul’s heart, “Preach the Word. Proclaim it. Live it. Defend it. Secure it. As prophesied by Paul, the time of deception has truly come. Even very sincere church-going Christian feel inadequate to share the Word of God and defend clearly its positions on basic issues of salvation and morality.
It is very evident that we are living in a world that refuses to respect and accept the reality of an absolute truth.
Instead, to suit a misguided sense of inclusivism and a distorted view of freedom, the world has upheld self-serving rules and human philosophies that have led us all farther and farther away from the Lord.
A professor in classical studies in Wellesley College commented, “The notion that there are many truths might seem to be well suited to a diverse society. But when everyone is free to define truth, the result is an intellectual and moral shouting match in which the people with the loudest voices are most likely to be heard.”
All of us are caught in the middle of this confusing shouting match. In almost all facets of human life and society, we hear contradicting voices. We are caught between conflicting opinions that require us to choose and decide. But in the end, can we truly draw the line? Can we make those hard choices without being arrogant, judgmental and haughty but in the spirit of genuine compassion, truth and justice?
The word disciple comes from the Greek work “mathetes” and it means learner or student. Jesus summarizes the concept of discipleship when he said, “Come follow me.”
Now, more than ever before, the Lord is calling us to learn from him. God is inviting us to grow in godly wisdom and maturity. Through the witness of Scriptures, God is opening doors for people to discover and experience the incomparable joy and genuine security that only Jesus Christ offers and is able to provide.
Through his Word, God is helping us understand there is more to life than acquiring wealth, gaining achievements, or pursuing our dreams and ambitions.
When all is said and done, when we are down to our very last breath, it is only the beautiful face of Jesus that will truly matter. May it be the greatest joy of our hearts to love him, to serve him, to follow him, and to give him glory through all that we are and will ever be.