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(Part 14)


January 26, 2011

Today’s readings
2 Timothy 1:1-8
Psalm 96:1-10
Mark 4:1-20

The psalmist says this of God: “strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.” (Ps 96:6b,RSV). He is the Lord who “made the heavens.” (Ps 96:5b). He is the awesome Creator, and we are to recognize that “great is the Lord and highly to be praised, to be feared above all gods.” (Ps 96:4).

Now we are called to relate to this strong God in two ways. One, we are to worship Him. “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, bless his name” (Ps 96:1a,2a). Two, we are to proclaim Him to all the world. “Tell God’s glory among the nations, among all peoples, God’s marvelous deeds.” (Ps 96:3). In particular, we are to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus, to “announce his salvation day after day.” (Ps 96:2b). This is the work of evangelization. And this work is to be to “all the earth.” (Ps 96:1b). This is the work of worldwide evangelization and mission.

We are God’s servants through whom God shows His glory (Is 49:3). This is a great privilege and also a great responsibility. Thus we are commanded to “give to the Lord the glory due his name.” (Ps 96:8a). Again, how does that happen? By our worship filled with awe and by our work of worldwide evangelization. “Bring gifts and enter his courts; bow down to the Lord, splendid in holiness. Tremble before God, all the earth; say among the nations: The Lord is king.” (Ps 96:8b-10a).

Evangelization is awesome divine work, which we feeble humans are called to do. Thus we need a strength that is outside of ourselves. To do divine work, we need the very strength of God. Now as the workers called to bring in the harvest, we indeed have been given “the strength that comes from God.” (2 Tim 1:8d).

What does God’s strength give us? First, it is not “a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7). We can boldly go forth, enduring any oppression and suffering. We go forth in the power of God’s love, having striven to control our human weaknesses that hamper God’s work. We are not to “be ashamed of (our) testimony to our Lord” (2 Tim 1:8a). We have been commissioned by God, and we are going to do our part no matter what.

In this work, we come against the forces of darkness. Satan will not easily give up his dominion. In fact, when we proclaim the good news to people, “as soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them.” (Mk 4:15b). And Satan does not only defend his dominion, he aggressively counter-attacks. He can inflict physical injury (as in the case of Job), he can bring forth occasions of persecution and oppression, he can bring discouragement, strife, disunity, and the like. To do the work of evangelization will be hard. And so we are to “bear (our) share of hardship for the gospel” (2 Tim 1:8c). We simply endure and persevere.

Now when we keep ourselves connected with God, through a life of worship, prayer, obedience and holiness, and when we respond with boldness to the commission to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus, we will reap a mighty harvest. Indeed, Jesus has said that the harvest is abundant, but only that there was a need for more workers. If the workers are there, then the harvest is also there ready to be reaped.

Our sowing the word will produce fruit in the lives of those “who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mk 4:20). As the word bears fruit in the lives of people, they themselves become evangelizers. Through their work, still more fruit is borne.

God raised us to be “a light to the nations, that (His) salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49:6b). We are God’s “servant .... through whom (He shows His) glory.” (Is 49:3). We are the ones to “tell God’s glory among the nations” (Ps 96:3a). We look to the response of all peoples: “Give to the Lord, you families of nations, give to the Lord glory and might; give to the Lord the glory due his name!” (Ps 96:7-8a).

We do all this “with the strength that comes from God.” (2 Tim 1:8d).

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