The youth have studied the life and teachings of the Apostle Paul this year. They looked at the letters that Paul wrote to various churches. Many of the letters were written to dear friends in cities where Paul had visited, preached and established the church. In those letters, he was writing to his peers and contemporaries. In the letters to Timothy, Paul was writing to the next generation of believers. He shared his vision and practical advice for the continuing and sustaining of the church of Jesus Christ in the next generation.
Our class tried to envision what this same letter might look like if Paul had written to our generation, in this place – the church at Stockbridge. Hear the book of First Timothy, adapted for the church at Stockbridge 2010.
Paul the Apostle to the church in Stockbridge
First off, I ask that prayers, requests petitions and thanksgivings are to God, not to me. God wants everyone know the truth. There is one god and one person who brings humans and god together, who is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ who sacrificed himself for all humans to live with their sins forgotten. That is proof that god wants all people to be saved. This is why I was sent to you as a teacher to explain the message of faith and truth. I give you my word on this.
If anyone wants to be a leader in the church that’s good but there are some conditions such as they must be well liked, faithful to their family, collected and calm. A leader has to know what he or she is talking about, not drink too much, not be pushy, be gentle, and not greedy. A leader has to handle everything well and pay attention to children and have their respect. If someone can’t handle their own problems they won’t be able to run the church. People who don’t know this person well must still think of him good of them. Otherwise, it will be easy for evil to overtake them.
These same things apply to anyone who wants to be a servant of the church. They must be serious and not drink a lot also they must not want to be controlling or bossy just because they have a position. They have to be able to prove themselves to become a servant of the church. Those who follow these rules will be respected.
I’ll be visiting soon but just in case I can’t come right away, I’m writing this so everyone knows how things must be in the church.
Jesus appeared in a human body
Was proved right by the invisible spirit
Was seen by angles
He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples,
Believed in all over the world
Taken up in heavenly glory.
Order those who are teaching false doctrines to stop. It does not matter who your ancestors were or what your family has done in the past. Bringing that up in the church will only cause arguments among you. This does not serve God’s plan. What we want to awaken in people is the love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscious, and a genuine faith. There are people who have lost sight of this goal as they became caught up in petty matters.
Some who wish to be teachers of God’s law do not understand what they are talking about.
God’s Law is good, if it is used the way it is supposed to be used. We need to remember that laws are not made for good people, but for those who break the law. They are the ones who need the specifics of how God wants things to be.
I am thankful to God for his forgiveness; even though I once spoke out against him he now considers me worthy of serving him. God was merciful because at that time I did not have faith and, therefore, did not know what I was doing. Christ Jesus came to this world to save sinners, such as myself. I am an example for all those who follow me and believe in Jesus Christ and will receive eternal life.
I am entrusting you with this so that you may use these words as weapons to fight well. Keep your faith and and your conscience clear, for some people have not listened to their conscience and have suffered as a result of it.
There are people who will twist and warp the teachings of Jesus. They make all kinds of rules about silly things like about who can be married or what you can eat. They do not really care about the damage they do with their lies because their consciences are dead. God created everything for us and for our benefit. Just thank God and make good use of what God has provided. Don’t get all hung up with silly rules made by liars who do not really represent Jesus.
Exercise your faith: the same as exercise is good for your body, exercising your faith is good for your soul – and it has an eternal effect. Teach others what Jesus taught. Read and think about Jesus’ words. Sometimes it will be really hard but keep going because your faith and your hope are in a God who is alive and who loves you.
Teach people this: Don’t let them belittle you or disrespect your wisdom just because of your age or their age. Just live as an example of how Jesus lived. Model Jesus in how you talk, how you behave, and how you treat others. You have a gift a spiritual gift.
It was recognized by the church community when they laid hands on you and prayed for your future. So make sure you continue preaching and reading scriptures publicly together and teaching. You have to keep using and exercising your gift then you will continue to understand more and more and everyone will see and recognize it. Watch yourself. Watch your public words, your preaching and teaching. Do not take it lightly because it has a huge impact on everyone who hears you and even on your self.
Treat people of all races and nations, all levels of economic, all faith and non faith groups equally.
Take care of people who don’t have a lot so all people have some. Do not shame or blame anyone but be gracious toward everyone.
Do not send messages of any kind that are negative or demeaning as that will make you a poor representative of Christ. Speak good words full of compassion to anyone.
Follow the teaching of Jesus in the tradition of Martin Luther King and Ghandi. Live to treat all equally and be willing to sacrifice your freedom to make a good point in a good way.
Be responsible for living your life consistent with the teachings of Jesus and be respectful towards all people regardless of anything. Do not argue or sweat the small stuff but be vigilant about that which is important. Set aside the part of you that is preoccupied with yourself, abusive, rude and intrusive in anyway. Do not fear loss or desire gain but live well with whatever you have in your own well. Then be willing to share your wellness with others.
Godliness, with relaxation of your own agenda, is the true gain. Always gain a good and healthy perspective. See that as always more important than gaining wealth or any other thing.
The love of money or anything more than God or people is like a pot hole that damages your alignment or a virus that attacks your computer. Live free and be strong.
Fight to live honorably and honestly before all people. Keep peace and love in your heart and live those qualities out to everyone you meet. Then remember the God of peace and love is with you always.
Guard your mind your heart your soul and spirit. Take hold of the life that is really worth living and live to the full the experience the Holy Spirit whom God has given to us all.
Live in Truth and grace
Grace be with you always.