Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-18, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
The exact details of the story have faded in my memory. I’m not sure where I heard it or the name of the man at the center of the narrative. I don’t need to know his name to want to be just like him.
His story goes something like this…
Christians were gathered in a home church in a country where worshiping Jesus was strictly forbidden. Authorities raided the home, forcing the terrified worshipers to lie on the floor, then brutally beat anyone who dared to resist. Despite this violence, they could not stop the man; he was determined to rise.
Over and over, he simply stood up silently, squared his shoulders, and looked his attackers in the eye. He was beaten back down each time only to rise to his feet again. He did not fight. He did not argue. He simply stood, no matter how bloody and bruised he became. Eventually, his attackers relented. Like Paul’s words to Timothy—penned despite imprisonments, beatings, abandonments, and trials—this man’s faith could not be shaken. He would not be kept down.
I may never face the butt of a gun as a result of my faith in Jesus. I may never know Paul’s fate of repeated imprisonment for declaring the gospel. The stakes may not look as dramatic, but we all know how it feels to be beaten down in some way or another. We feel the pressure to play it safe and be quiet about Jesus. But we cannot. Over and over and over, we must continue to rise. We must.
Paul’s powerful words echo throughout time, to the Church in every era. Whatever obstacles we face in culture or in the parthenon of public opinion, whatever makes our knees buckle, whatever threatens to silence us, or makes us want to simply lay low—when we weigh them against the heavy weight of the gospel, the scales are easily tipped.
We must speak out.
We must live boldly.
We must rise.
Fear cannot become our default. Let us remind each other often that we are a people uniquely armed with power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Through the silent testimony of our sold-out lives and words seasoned with grace, we must declare, “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” (v. 12).
What inspired Paul to declare the gospel so boldly? He refused to forget the stench of the prison of sin he had been delivered from. Every other cell smelled like freedom. He remembered how it felt to be buried by the weight of his own sin, but through Jesus, he had been invited to rise and walk a new life.
Paul’s declaration to Timothy, and our declaration to each other is this: I am not ashamed of the gospel, because the gospel is not ashamed of me. Church, we do not deserve such extravagant grace. We are a ragamuffin bunch called to reach the world with radical truth.
There will always be opposition. Even so, let us rise.
Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.