2 Tim. 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.
At a recent meeting of pastors I attended the question was put forward: What is the greatest need in the Church today? There are many possible answers to that question: revival, spiritual maturity, understanding the message of grace, evangelism, character, or personal renewal. But there is one answer that trumps them all and affects all of these areas. The greatest need for the church, and for individual Christians, is to regain a pure and simple devotion to Jesus Christ.
Doesn’t it seem odd that Paul felt the need to exhort his spiritual son, Timothy, to “remember Jesus Christ”? Paul and Timothy shared many ministry experiences together, helping to start and nurture churches throughout Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, Troas, in Philippi, Berea, Thessalonica, Ephesus, and even Rome, among others. Together they co-authored six of the books of the New Testament. They were partners in the most significant missions movement in the early church.
In an earlier letter Paul had told Timothy to pay close attention to his teaching and his manner of life. But now, near the end of his life, Paul turns the attention of his spiritual son to that which is most important: pure and simple devotion to Jesus Christ.
This is a theme of Paul’s later letters. Consider Paul’s words to the Corinthians: But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ (2 Cor. 11:3). There is a crucial lesson for all of us here. The heart of our Christian walk is a relationship with a person. Not a doctrine, not an activity, not a system of morality, but Jesus Christ himself.
There are a million “good” things that can subvert the greatest thing, which, as Paul spells out later in his letter to Timothy, is “that I might know Him”. Grace, personal renewal, character, mission; these are all inextricably bound up in a person—Jesus Christ. If we do not understand this, even these good things can become idols, replacing Christ in the pre-eminent place in our lives. In the end, we must refocus ourselves daily on personal devotion to the one who is devoted to us.