Summary: You’re No Wimp 1) God the Father has infused you with a spirit of power 2) God the Son has made you indestructible 3) God the Holy Spirit is your personal bodyguard
Do you know who this man is? (Show picture of Hu Jintao.) According to the March 2011 edition of US Forbes magazine, he’s the most powerful person in the world. This is the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, ruler over one-fifth of the world’s population. Jintao has been described by the magazine as a person who “unlike Western counterparts, can divert rivers, build cities, jail dissidents, and censor the internet without meddling from pesky courts.” The second most powerful man in the world according to the magazine is U.S. President Obama, while Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, ranks as the most powerful woman and comes in sixth overall. What place do you suppose you would come in? Would any of us even crack the top one million most powerful people in the world? I doubt it.
Having said that, you’re no wimp either. Our sermon text on this Trinity Sunday teaches that God the Father has infused you with a spirit of power. God the Son has made you indestructible. And God the Holy Spirit is your personal bodyguard. Of course Forbes magazine could care less about these facts and still wouldn’t rank you in the top ten. But the truth is you are more powerful than most think. Let’s find out what this means for our day-to-day lives.
Our text is taken from the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Timothy was a fellow pastor and protégé of Paul. Unlike Paul, however, Timothy seemed to have a timid disposition. And so Paul wrote the following to encourage Timothy: “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:7, 8).
Although Jesus did say that Christians are to be meek and peace-loving, this does not mean he has made us to be doormats. On the contrary, God the Father has infused Christians with a spirit of power. And so Timothy was not to be ashamed of “testifying” about Jesus, and neither are we. Of course testifying about Jesus means pointing out to others that they can’t get to heaven on their own. They may be friendly neighbors. They may be faithful co-workers. They may be dedicated to serving their family. But whenever they lose their temper, whenever they speak disparagingly of those in authority, they are sinners in need of forgiveness. Don’t be timid in pointing out these sins. God has given you a spirit of power. Of course this doesn’t mean we condemn others in a self-righteous manner as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were good at doing. Did you hear what else Paul said God has given to us in addition to a spirit of power? He has given us a spirit of love as well (2 Timothy 1:7). We boldly point out sin in others because we love them and don’t want them to suffer the eternal consequences of their sins.
Ah, but how are we to know what is a sin and what isn’t? We live in changing times. Certainly, morality has changed too, hasn’t it? What our grandparents frowned on: short skirts, loud music, intimate relationships outside of marriage are generally accepted by everyone today. Why should we Christians hold ourselves to a different standard? Because, Paul reminds us, the words that he spoke to Timothy were a “pattern of sound teaching” to be guarded and followed. Paul said: “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13, 14).
Loud music in and of itself is not sinful but claiming that your body belongs to you and you can do with it whatever you want, is not God-pleasing. There is a right and wrong way to believe about issues like abortion, sex, and the roles of men and women to name a few hot button topics. The pattern of right teaching regarding these issues is found in the Bible. If your life doesn’t conform to that pattern, God will do with you what the seamstress does with fabric that hasn’t been cut according to the pattern: throw it out.
But none of us conforms to the pattern of right living expressed in the Bible. Not even the Apostle Paul did. So are we all bound for God’s trash heap? No. Listen to what else Paul wrote: “[Jesus] has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10b).
The second reason you’re no wimp is because through faith in Jesus you are indestructible and are not bound for God’s trash heap. Jesus won this immortality for you when he himself defeated death and forgave your sins. Let me try to put into perspective Jesus’ work of salvation. The last time I used a sewing machine was in 8th grade when I made something that resembled an apron. I blame this on the sewing machine. It kept jamming. Of course that may have had something to do with how I fed too much fabric through it at once. At least I knew enough not to feed anything like a piece of metal through the sewing machine. Had I done that, the sewing machine needle would have been ruined. Well that’s the effect that Jesus had on death. He ruined it when he dove head first into its jaws. Oh it’s true that death will one day swallow us but just as fabric fed through a sewing machine without a needle will come out the other end without any marks on it, when Jesus raises us from the dead on Judgment Day, our bodies will not have a mark of decay on it. There will be no deadly tumors hiding away. There will be no more arthritic joints. Eyes that now squint to see clearly will see, as if in high definition, the glories of heaven...and loved ones that have been awaiting our arrival there!