“Preach the Word.”
I’ve often heard this phrase from professors training us who were heading into pastoral ministry, or from individuals now who encourage me prior to me teaching our teens.
What I think they really mean are things like “don’t mix words”, “don’t compromise”, “focus on the task at hand”. To the best of my abilities (which are minimal) I aim to do that well: “Preach the Word”.
But this statement isn’t born in a vacuum.
“Preach the Word” comes from the very Word of God itself, as Paul, in his final days, plainly lays this imperative out for his mentee Timothy to follow (2 Timothy 4:2). In the presence of God the Father and God the Son (v. 1), and by the power of the Spirit, tell the people what He has preserved for us to tell. In a tone and tenor that exemplifies Christ (“complete patience”), with precise aims in mind (whether to “reprove, rebuke or exhort”), tell the people what the Word of God says (even if doing so is “out of season”).
When teaching teens, I call the timeless principles of Scripture “old paths”, well-worn truths that many have walked before us. These are principles (“paths” if that helps) that we can’t walk away from, though there are some who do (2 Timothy 4:3). In the time of Timothy, there were wayward passions that suited the people, passions that had individuals walking toward myth (and if you build on myth, you’ll live a life that inevitably collapses).
In the middle of persistently wandering people, the call to Timothy is this: “Preach the Word.” Even if the people don’t endure on this “old path” of timeless truth, you “fulfill your ministry” (v. 5).
What was true in the days of Timothy is true in the present day. There have historically been, and presently are, many who have stepped off the old path (even with seemingly good intentions).
Today our culture persistently finds itself frustrated with issues like gender identity, racial equality, and political divide (to name a few). The world rightly recognizes problems, but where hearts and minds haven’t believed and received the Word, the solutions to humanity’s problems are insufficient and unable to solve the core of societal ills.
We’d find that slavery reparations, Black Lives Matter, and governmental legislation do not solve the persistent stains of ethnic partiality.
We’d find that voting Donkey or Elephant in the upcoming election doesn’t cure in totality the hurts and hang-ups all of us carry.
This “you be you” mentality that permeates gender conversation is a black hole that I’ve seen again and again leaving people more angry, hurt, and confused than before.
These are wayward paths that sound good in theory but lead nowhere good in reality. The promise of fulfillment comes up hollow, lives collapsed now on myth.
So we return to the Old Path, that path of Scripture that leads us to Christ. We find on this old path reconciliation with God and man (Ephesians 2) that divides all walls of hostility, even racial ones. We find on this path a valuing of men and women made in God’s image (Genesis 1-2), understanding our gender, and the divine rationale behind why we were made “male and female”. We find on this path the right response to government (Romans 13); that it is good in its place but no Savior like Christ.
We find on this old path of truth the path to life, to Jesus Himself (John 14:6). So then…
“Preach the Word.”
Pastor Nathan Fox
PASTOR OF STUDENT MINISTRIES
Nathan began in 2016 and enjoys reading, watching or playing sports, taking walks with his wife Ashley, and going to Fresh Market to “sample” candy!