This morning I’ve been thinking about Paul’s instructions to “young” Timothy.
Rather train yourself for godliness… Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practise these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
What you realise reading Paul’s letters to Timothy is that in Christian ministry there are no shortcuts. There are no easy solutions. No magic bullets. If we want a God-focused worshipping church, a doctrinally sound church, a church where relationships bless God’s people, and also faithfully presents Christ in her community, there is no shortcut around ministerial hard graft.
The same holds true in the life of the individual believers who are part of the Church. If we want to engage in worship, we need a hunger for God that will not be satisfied an hour on the Lord’s Day. If we want to appreciate God’s glory, we need to really invest time and effort in grappling with Scripture. If we yearn for good fellowship, we can’t fritter away our time together in just talking about what the church needs to do to be better, we have to share in the life of faith in the Church. And if we want to see the Church grow, and Christ be honoured by the nations, our blood and treasure must be for it, not just our sincere best wishes.
There are no shortcuts. It is not by mistake that the Christian life is pictured like warfare.