2 Timothy 1:1-14
Pastor Chris Tweitmann
Famous last words. It’s a well-known phrase, often used ironically these days. Someone makes a statement and then we throw out this expression as an expression of disbelief. The other person has just spoken optimistically about something and we offer these off-handed comments as a sort of prediction that what that person just said will be proven wrong.
“Famous last words.”
This hasn’t always been the connotation of this phrase. Before it was employed in this sarcastic manner, the expression used to refer to the actual dying words of a prominent person. Do a quick search on the internet based on this criterion and you’ll find many “famous last words” – ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Summarizing views on life, death and eternity, famous last words can inspire and sometimes even shock us. What will be my last words as I breathe my final breath?
What will yours be? Have you ever considered this – what you’d like your last words to be? It can be a sobering thought.
In the last couple of years, one’s final words have become a renewed focus in our society. Bestsellers like The Last Lecture or Tuesdays with Morrie, reflect this trend of seeking wisdom and perspective from those preparing to die. Long before these works were written, we were given the final testament of one of the most influential figures in history. The final words of a man who has shaped the understanding and influence of Christianity in the world for the last two thousand years.
Initially a skeptic and a persecutor of those who followed Jesus, this man arguably became the greatest missionary, evangelist, church planter and theologian for Christ. More than anyone else, this one man’s reflections and insights predominant the writings that make up the New Testament. Fourteen of its 27 books were authored by him. Even though the book of Acts begins with what happened next for the first disciples of Jesus, the story gradually and singularly shifts to this one man’s journey of faith with Christ.
Of course, I am speaking of the Apostle Paul. As our year-long study of the Bible through “The Story” nears closer to its end, we are witnessing through the life of Paul how the authority and power of the Gospel works. Through the reorientation and transformation of one life – other lives are saved – resurrected, redeemed and reconciled. The world is changed, the Kingdom of God is revealed and expanded – one person at a time.
This Sunday, we’ll briefly recap the journey of Paul’s life but our primary focus will be on his famous last words to a friend – a protégé named Timothy. Imprisoned and likely facing a death sentence, Paul reflects on his own life in Christ as a way of encouraging and admonishing Timothy to fully live his. As we read the opening of this letter, we too will gain some perspective and confidence as we consider the core values of our lives and take stock of the way we live, what we live for – and most importantly, who. Together we will discover while Paul’s life journey with Christ was distinctive; it was not unique. In a sense, where the Lord took Paul, what happened to him and what he experienced, is where we will go, what will happen to us and what we will experience in following Jesus too.
Every human life is a story – with a beginning and an end. For those who know and follow Jesus, that ending is but the turning of a page, but it is still the conclusion of a chapter. All who walk with Christ have a story to tell – the story of our meeting Jesus and of His faithfulness in the midst of the particular twists and turns, the pilgrimage of our lives. Our last words of the lessons we’ve learned, the defeats and triumphs we’ve faced, may be different in their specifics but they are all the same in that they reflect the larger story – the grander narrative of the salvation of the world in Christ. This is the legacy of our faith in Jesus – a legacy we live into long before we pass it on to others.
Grace to you!