Not the Spirit of Fear

In 2 Timothy 1:6, Paul urges Timothy to actively stir up the gift "which is in thee by the laying on of my hands."  This is clearly a reference to a deliberate activating of a spiritual gift that is empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Recall that Timothy is a relatively young pastor over a congregation containing older members who, in the wider cultural context, would be entititeld to belive they would have the right to tell him what to do, rather than he telling them what to do.  Since this is a form of social programming that is done at an early age, there are components of fear involved when he goes against the social order. 


Paul's recommendation to Timothy to stir up his specific spiritual gift throws two complications into the mix: Jesus faced the same social expectations that dictated that He listen to the older Pharisees rather than the other way around that Timothy faced, yet Jesus boldly went against the grain and confronted the Establishment of His day, mainy due to the exercise of the Spiritual Gifts given to Him when the Holy Spirit came upon Him.  Paul's advice to Timothy is not to pull rank based on his position as his congregation's pastor and bishop, but to pull rank based on the power of God. 

Timothy's problem is that the programming instilled in him to enable weaker oldsters to control strong young men for the purpose of maintaining social order was being used by Satan to enable those same older men to dictate to Timothy church policy and doctrine, in the same way the elder Pharisees, Sadducees, and Priests tried to control and stifle John the Baptist and Jesus.  John's spiritual gift was to preach in a way that allowed the Holy Spirit to deeply convict his hearers, while Jesus' Spiritual Gift was clearly the working of the miraculous.  However, as verse 6 implies, one must "stir up" this spiritual gift.  It's a voluntary thing clearly founded on the truth that we are incorporated as equals into the Godhead, and thus meriting different treatment as children of God rather than as the rebellious children of the devil.  This controlling social programming works through fear.

Paul's solution to this indwelling fear is to remind Timothy that the Holy Spirit doesn't work that way (V7).  We think of 'courage' as being the opposite of 'fear', but Paul's view is that overcoming the opposite of Fear requires Power, Love, and a Sound Mind.  Power, because even the older religious leaders had to acknowledge that Jesus' powers represented a source of authority.  Love, because that is the very best motive for doing the right thing in the face of programmed fear.  And a Sound Mind, because even Power and Love must be deployed correctly.

One of the tactics of the power structure is to "make an example" of one troublemaker to re-enforce fear in the others.  This, of course, ironically requires that the other trouble makers have a Sound Mind to discern the threat being made!  "Stop that!  Do you want to wind up in jail like Paul?" is, to put it bluntly, a threat of persecution. 

Paul's advice to Timothy, in verse 8, is to manage the persecution using the power of God.  That is, the solution to handling threats against you when you exercise the power of God is to exercise the power of God!  The strategy being advocated here is a "get in their face" strategy of continual, loving, empowered, and correct confrontation, and a "stay in their face" strategy of meeting resistance with "more of the same".   

2010-12-31 03:16:14 by Gerald

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