What does it mean to “remember Jesus Christ” in this letter to Timothy? For the writer of the epistle, it means that though he may be held captive, the word of love cannot be bound any more than Jesus was bound by death. For Timothy, the writer affirms that remembering Jesus means that whether the writer’s words are welcomed by his hearers or result in his exile in a prison cell, Timothy will be sustained by the Spirit.
For us, remembering Jesus Christ may mean overcoming our fear or apathy when someone on the street asks for our help. It may mean speaking in a city council meeting with a shaky voice when the only playground in a depressed area is in desperate need of repair to make it safe. It may mean praying for strength when we are at the bedside of a friend as she dies. Remembering the Jesus whose humanity brought him face-to-face with all we experience can help us to know that where we are, God is.
What about the verse that suggests that if we disown Christ, we will be disowned? We find little comfort in that verse, for we know that we will fail. Nor do we find reassurance in the next verse, which states that God will be faithful, since it is unclear whether that verse is meant to trump the prior one. Scripture tells us, however, that like Jesus’ death on the cross, our mistakes and their consequences are not the final word in God’s continuing story of restoration. God will be faithful when we are not; God cannot be chained.
When we gather at the table, when we feel the burdens of exile but forge on with love, or when we retreat in fear in spite of our resolve, remembering Jesus Christ means reminding our hearts and minds that God is with us.
Reflect on a time when remembering Jesus strengthened you to care for your neighbor.
Through Jeremiah, God sends a message to the people in exile: They are to seek good for the city of Babylon, their new home. God will bless the city and in doing so will bless God’s people. The psalmist encourages the people to praise God with songs recounting past challenges through which God’s powerful deeds have brought them. This can be encouragement for those currently experiencing difficulties. In Second Timothy, Paul encourages his protégé to endure suffering if necessary. In fact, Timothy should expect to experience resistance. Although the apostle is in chains, the word of God is powerful and can never be chained. The story in Luke reminds us of a basic truth: We should remember to show gratitude to God for answered prayers.
Read Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. When have you experienced physical or metaphorical exile? How has God helped you to thrive in your Babylon?
Read Psalm 66:1-12. Recall a time of division in your family or community of faith. How did God bring you individually and collectively to a spacious place?
Read 2 Timothy 2:8-15. How do you remember Christ in your actions toward others?
Read Luke 17:11-19. What boundaries keep you from full wellness that can be found in Jesus Christ?
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