Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
The Church recognizes Timothy, Pastor and Confessor, on January 24. In Acts 16:1-5 we get a glimpse into Timothy's discipleship. The apostle Paul apparently knew the family, or at least was introduced to them by some of the Christian community in the area where Timothy lived. Paul wanted him to go along and collaborate in some ministry work. He took him, had him circumcised, and brought Timothy with him on his journey. There are several things I'd like us to notice about this.
First, Timothy had a good report (Acts 16:2). People already thought well of Timothy. He was a Christian and apparently was serious about his commitment to Christ.
Second, Timothy's father was a Greek, apparently not a Christian, since Luke makes the point of contrast between his mother, a Christian, and his father, a Greek (v. 1). Nobody at that point had a long history of Christianity in the family, but Timothy only had one parent who was a Christian. Yet he could be called and used by God.
Third, we have no mention of Timothy's education. While I think highly of a solid seminary education, and endorse that by dedicating a good bit of my time to teaching seminary students, there was no such system available at that time. Paul, the mature Christian leader, took Timothy along with him and gave him the training he needed. It amazes me what a low opinion we seem to have of local pastors and teachers. Rather than expecting that they will assist all who desire to learn the fundamentals of their craft, we expect that the pastor of a church will help people mark time in the pews until, if they show great promise, they will be sent to seminary so they can learn their way around the Bible. Why do we not rather assume that any godly man will become comfortable with making disciples, starting with his family and moving in circles outward, and that those who take to it most easily will enroll for seminary classes because they are confident that God wishes to use them as pastors?
Finally, we have to notice that Paul has Timothy circumcised so as not to be offensive to the Jews in the community. While Paul doesn't seem to think circumcision is important to the Christian life, he does think that creating offense is a decidedly bad thing. We cooperate with cultural norms when we can so as to avoid offending those who need to hear the Gospel.
This was likely a lesson to Timothy as well. By complying with the cultural expectation, Timothy could gain a hearing from the Jews in the community. He could tell them that Jesus had paid for their sins without trying to overcome the suspicion that he was trying to convert the Jews into Gentiles.
As we make disciples, then, we recognize that not all will have a noble pedigree. We take people right where they are and help them know the Scripture and the God of the Bible ever better, enabling them to love and serve their neighbors with precisely the Gospel message they need - that Jesus has taken away the sin problem and delivers eternal life by his grace through trust in him.
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