Layers of Minions
As Sir Hiss was to Prince John and as Donkey was to Shrek, so Timothy is to Paul. Sounds like a question on a game show.
What is “Henchman?”
Hiss was a Henchman, Donkey was a side-kick and Timothy was a protégé but they were all Minions.
And remember how the Oxford dictionary defines a minion: “A follower or underling of a powerful person, especially a servile or unimportant one.”
This is week two of our “Minions: Playing Second Fiddle for God” series and you know what they say, another sermon another pair of minion socks. Well maybe they don’t say that, but they should.
This week we are looking at Timothy who we are first introduced to in the book of Acts and then later on there are two books in the New Testament which were addressed to Timothy.
1 and 2 Timothy are two of three books which are referred to as “Pastoral Epistles.” Or Pastoral letters and they are simply letters which Paul had sent to directly to pastors who he had trained.
So, the book of Ephesians was a letter that was written to the church in Ephesus. But the books of 1 and 2 Timothy were letters which were written to the Pastor of the church in Ephesus and that was Timothy.
Just like some letters that arrive in our mailbox here at the church are addressed to Cornerstone Wesleyan Church and others are addressed to Rev. Denn Guptill.
So let’s start at the beginning, which is usually a good place to start.
The Apostle Paul is on what is referred to as his Second Missionary journey, it began in Jerusalem and now he has ended up in Lystra, which is located in modern day Turkey.
And we pick up the story in Acts 16:1 Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. And so let’s begin with the fact that
Timothy was a Young Minion I don't know about you but often times when I think of the heroes of the bible, I think of older, more mature individuals.
And in the case of Moses, who was 80 when he was called to lead the People out of Egypt, or Abraham who was 99 when the promise of becoming the father of a great nation was fulfilled the picture of the man with the white beard is probably fitting.
And, if you pause and picture, say the 12 Apostles, who were the Minions that we spoke of last week, you probably think of Jesus surrounded by mostly older men. But the 12 were most likely in their twenties.
Paul who was the architect of the early church was in his early thirties when he was called.
Jesus was only 30 when he began preaching and 33 when he was crucified.
So, while we don’t know how old Timothy was, he was young enough that it was mentioned. And several years later Paul would write to Timothy and remind him in 1
Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. . . .
The bible reminds us that age isn’t a factor. It wasn’t a factor when God called those who were old and it wasn't a factor when God called those who were young.
Age shouldn’t be a limit on our dreams or our calling.
Bill Gates was twenty when he founded Microsoft and Steve Jobs was 21 when Apple started and Mozart had composed over 600 works by the time he died at the ripe old age of 35.
On the other hand, Colonel Sanders was 62 years old when he founded KFC, Christopher Plummer won his first Oscar when he was 82 and Gladys Burrill completed her first marathon at the age of 92. They called her the Gladyiator.
God doesn’t have an upper or lower age limit on who he chooses to uses. Don’t let anyone think less of you because of your . . . age.
What else can we discover? Let's keep reading. . . Acts 16:1-2 . . .His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. . .
Timothy was young, but he wasn't fresh out of the box.
Timothy was A Minion with a Heritage Even though Timothy was young he was mature in his faith. And the credit for that goes to two ladies in his life.
If we go to the second letter that bears Timothy’s name we read this about his heritage. 2 Timothy 1:5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.
You catch the critical word there? The word faith. Three times in thirty words Paul uses the word faith. We are told that it was a genuine faith, that it was a shared faith and that it was a strong faith.
The person that Timothy was, had been shaped by his mother and grandmother, and that isn’t all that surprising considering how much influence our mothers have over us.
It was Napoleon who said “Let France have good mothers, and she will have good sons.” And in his poem by the same name William Ross Wallace writes “For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.”
And so according to Paul, Timothy was who Timothy was because of Eunice. His faith had been formed and shaped by the faith of his mother and on this day when we celebrate Mothers it would be a good time to realize that Timothy could never have become the man he became without the influence of both his mother and Grandmother.
French philosopher Mirabeau was asked when the education of a child should begin? His reply was "Twenty years before his birth, by educating his mother."
The actual title of this message is “Layers of Minions” because while we see Paul as Timothy’s mentor there was a much more important mentor in the story and that was Timothy’s mother Eunice and before Eunice could be a mentor to her son she had a mentor in her mother, Lois.
Moms and dads, understand the responsibility that falls to you. We aren’t just responsible for our children growing up healthy and productive, which is why health care and education are priorities. But we are also responsible to introduce our kids to God.
Ultimately it will be their decision as to whether or not they will pursue that relationship but it’s up to us as parents to make sure they understand the importance of it.
When you look at what you communicate and demonstrate to your kids about God, the scriptures, their relationship to Jesus and the church, are you communicating a genuine, strong shared faith?
And perhaps some of you are thinking, “Well sure pastor but it’s not that simple, my spouse isn’t a believer.”
Remember the scripture that we started with? Timothy’s mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was just identified as a Greek. It’s not that Paul had anything against Greeks, you see it wasn’t what Paul said about Timothy’s father it was what was left unsaid.
He was a Greek, not a Greek believer just a Greek. And so we have a household where one spouse is a Christ follower and one isn’t and the challenges that are posed in such situations can never be fully understood unless you are in that situation.
That was the situation that Timothy’s mother found herself in. she probably didn’t have to fight the hockey, baseball, soccer, scouts, sparks, band battles but I’m sure there were similar cultural concerns 2000 years ago.
Would Timothy be in church and youth group or would he be at the chariot races and practicing for the Olympics?
And so Eunice would have been practicing her faith and raising her son in a less than ideal home situation. Now we don’t know at what point in her relationship she became a believer. Was she a Christ follower before the wedding or after the wedding?
In her situation and culture that question may have been irrelevant in that her marriage may very well have been arranged and she didn’t have a choice of who she would marry or who would marry her.
And still she was able to be the godly example that would lead her son to the place that he was a committed Christ follower.
Let’s keep reading.
Acts 16:3 . . . so Paul wanted him (Timothy) to join them on their journey After Paul met Timothy and got to know him he saw the potential that Timothy had to help change the world.
We don’t know what Timothy was doing at that point in time, whether he was working at a trade or in school. But Paul didn’t see him where he was, he saw him where he could be.
Timothy was a Called Minion Notice that Paul didn’t just stand up and ask for volunteers to go with him. He saw in Timothy the qualities he was looking for in a minion, I mean a protégée and he asked him to join the adventure.
At Cornerstone, we don’t just stand up and say, “Hey we need someone to serve in the Nursery or in Children’s ministry or on the worship team”. We aren’t looking for warm bodies to fill spots. You can be assured that if you are invited to serve at Cornerstone it’s because we see in you the potential to make a difference.
John Sculley was the president of Pepsi when he was hired by Steve Jobs to be the CEO of Apple computers and the pitch that Jobs made was “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”
When we invite you to join us in ministry at Cornerstone it is an invitation to change the world. And I don’t say that lightly.
When you are asked to assist with our children or youth you have the chance to make a difference in their eternity. Two of our teens committed their hearts to Christ on Wednesday night, that wouldn’t have happened without those who have committed to serve with the youth.
I don’t know what plans Timothy had for the rest of his life before that day, but I do know that he would go on to shape the church in Ephesus and have an impact on the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people. Because someone believed in him and asked him to serve.
And there are times we get all mystical and spiritual about the call, after all Moses got a burning bush, Mary got an Angel and Paul got a blinding light.
But Jesus simply asked Peter to follow him, and in this story it simply said that Paul wanted Timothy to join him on his journey, so presumably he just asked.
And maybe when God calls you to serve it will be through one of the staff at Cornerstone. But when you are called to serve at Cornerstone you are being called to make a difference in the lives of people and in the Kingdom of God.
Let’s keep going. Acts 16:3 . . . In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek.
Can you imagine the conversation between Paul and Timothy “You want me to do what?” “Why?” It’s at this point that it becomes very clear that Timothy was a Committed Minion.
Paul may have arranged for Timothy to be circumcised but it wouldn’t have happened without Timothy’s consent. It didn’t say that Paul forced Timothy to be circumcised it says he arranged for it to happen.
And whether we can understand that rationale or not, it happened so that there wouldn't be a anything that would cause a barrier between the message and those who heard the message.
Paul would later write, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law
(though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
If you asked Timothy why he allowed himself to be circumcised I’m sure he would have replied, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
If we are committed to the mission, and committed to reaching people there will often be a cost. That’s why Jesus said we’d have to take up our cross and why Paul spoke about being crucified daily.
And that might be the cost associated with stewardship or giving up a Sunday morning a month to teach our children or giving up your Wednesday nights to help lead the youth group.
Or simply surrounding our preferences in what church is like so that Cornerstone can reach the pre-churched, the de-churched and the un-churched.
One of my favourite websites is called the Babylon Bee and it is satirical Christian site. The other day one head line read “Everything Local Man Feels Led To Do He Coincidentally Really Likes” The article begins by saying WARAW, IN—Don Farmer, 43, reported Tuesday that he was recently “led by God” toward several things he really likes—and in fact, as a general rule, everything he feels spiritually moved to do he coincidentally enjoys very much.
The article goes on to report: Additionally, he felt led to attend the church’s Super Bowl Party last year, which it just so happens he thoroughly enjoyed. The next Sunday, Farmer was unable to sign up for the church outreach visit to the senior home or the juvenile detention center due to the lack of a “nudge” from the Holy Spirit, but did feel moved to participate in the Men’s Group’s Annual Chili Cook-Off. He was also able to fend off several invitations by the church’s leadership to attend the new discipleship class, sorrowfully noting that not only would the time interfere with his Tuesday TV viewing lineup, but that he just didn’t feel as if he was being led to a diligent study of the Word “in that season.”
“I’m always listening for that still, small voice that just so happens to send me to do things I already want to do,” said Farmer.
Most of you know that one of my passions is training pastors in West Africa, I feel that is one of the high-level things that I have done. And I can be passionate about it.
But it wasn't like that from the beginning. My first trip was in 2007 and I had only been in Ghana for a couple of days and I had determined that whatever else happened in my life I wouldn't be going back to Africa.
I don’t know what I was expecting the trip to be like but it wasn't like that.
I found it hot, loud, dirty and overwhelming and as far as I was concerned I had made my first and last trip to the dark continent.
That evening during my devotions I was reading Acts 16 and discovered that what Timothy was willing to do in order to be obedient to God. And suddenly being in Africa didn't seem so bad.
The next day I spoke to Joe Ocran the National Superintendent of Ghana and asked what I could do to help fulfill the mission in West Africa and we worked out a plan to help with the training of their pastors. But understand, Africa isn’t my favorite place to be but being in the centre of God’s will is.
Being circumcised doesn't always involve . . . Well you know what it doesn’t always involve, but there is always a cost involved.
And when we arrive at the conclusion of Timothy’s call we read this Acts 16:4-5 Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day.
Timothy was an Effective Minion
Timothy didn’t have a starring role in the story of the early church, he was just Paul’s sidekick, his minion.
And if it wasn’t for the two letter that bear his name Timothy would hardly be a footnote in the New Testament story. But he was a really important footnote to the people he ministered to.
40 years from now when the two teens who accepted Christ this week are telling the story to their grandchildren, they might not be able to remember the fact that it was Stefan, Chad, Andrew, Lynn and Kristen who we doing youth that night, but that won’t change the fact that if Stefan, Chad, Andrew, Lynn and Kristen hadn’t been willing to give up their Wednesday night the eternity of those young men might have looked very different.
So the take away today? Every one of us has the potential to be a footnote in the story.