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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, October 18, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | 2 Timothy 3:14—4:5

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully. (NRSV)

Various translations of this passage yield some interesting things to think about (research into “itching ears” in 4:3 was quite the distraction!), but one phrase in 4:5 is the same no matter where I look: “do the work of an evangelist.”

Early in my adult life I was skittish about using the word evangelist because of its close connection to television preachers and street-corner apostles; both groups often shouted and talked too much (for me) about who was excluded from the kingdom of God.

Somewhere along the way, though, I started feeling comfortable with the word through its etymology. The Greek word from which evangelist is derived means “messenger of good news.” What’s the good news? There’s quite a bit, actually. We belong to a God whose abundant love poured forth into a creation of beauty and wonder. God’s Son, Jesus, lived as a man in first-century Judea to show us how expansively loving human life could be. He suffered, died, and was raised from the dead, rearranging forever notions about earning salvation. The Spirit—unpredictable, quickening, invitational, and fiery—dwells with us now. And every day we are offered the opportunity to be in relationship with this Trinity and to experience God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy—and to let it spill out through our presence, words, and actions.

It is good news. It is work to proclaim it in a world that’s not terribly interested.

Do the work.

Word of God, give me the strength and courage to use my words in service of you. Lend me your eloquence, persuasiveness, and perceptiveness about what to say to whom. May I evangelize well. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Director, Center for Life and Learning

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