2 Timothy 1:1-14
As herd animals, we all feel the need to belong. We are part of a community, not isolated individuals. So there is a constant pressure to conform. But most of us live in several communities at once – maybe one at work, another at home, yet another at the club, when out with the boys or at coffee with the girls and so on. The way we talk and behave differs according to the group we are in. It’s all part of our need to feel accepted and appreciated. It is as though we have several identities, and sometimes these identities vie with one another for supremacy. We can ask ourselves: Which identity is most important to me? My work self, my family self, my church self, etc? This then is a person’s dominant identity, and we give preference to the demands of that group. But if we belong to Christ, we have another identity. One that does not come from group belonging. It comes from our relationship with God in Christ. In this relationship we know that we are saved, reconciled, accepted, loved, and called, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to follow Christ in daily life. At some point, the prompting of God’s Spirit will conflict with the urgings that come from our other identities. Not always. Frequently, depending upon the groups that we belong to, the group pressures are consistent with Christ’s leading. But there are times when we have to make up our minds whether it is God’s way or another way that we are going to go. It is then that we are invited to stand with Paul and declare, “I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust”. In him we have our controlling identity. We know, at the deepest level of our being, who we are and what this requires of us. Through him, we are able to contribute something that is very important for the groups to which we belong.
- To what extent does church, sporting team, employment, friends, family or nationality influence what you wear or eat?
- In what way is belonging to Christ different from belonging to a social group?
- If a person is ashamed of Christ, how does it show?
- As a community of Christ’s people, how does the church help you remain strong in the face of temptation?