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Posted: October 11, 2012 8:04 p.m.

Love speaks with urgency

You: cute brunette with green eyes shopping with your sister at the mall.

Me: the guy in the brown shirt you bumped into in front of Cinnabon.

Are you familiar with Craigslist "Missed Connections?" I don't know if they've ever worked, but to me, they seem like just about the most hopeless thing ever.

The premise is the hope of a second chance when someone didn't get a chance to connect with someone they saw. But the odds of the person you missed actually checking that website and happening to read your posting among the thousands there - not likely. I don't want to think about what would have happened if I had to resort to the "missed connection" above that day I met my wife in the mall.

In fact, I don't see why people waste their time with those things. It just goes to show how awful it is to miss a chance. It gets even worse when we think about what Paul is talking about in 2 Timothy 4 - the chance to tell someone about their Savior. That's a connection we'd never want to miss.

Today, in this series of describing how love speaks, let's look at what Paul said about the truth that love speaks with urgency.

Now understand, this is not because their eternity depends on us. God will get his children home with or without us. It's just that we don't want to miss a connection because that is what God made us for, that is our purpose - to let your light shine. Every missed connection means you are missing out on being what God has made you. That's why love speaks with urgency.

So, look at 2 Timothy 4. Paul said what he does here right after telling Timothy this: "Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season." Preach the word. He wanted Timothy to take every single opportunity to share that word before it was too late. Because for Paul - it was just about too late.

In that Roman jail he was writing from, he knew he was about to die. He talks about the time of his "departure," literally, an "untying" - like a ship released from the moorings, ready to set sail. He was awaiting what was likely to be a pretty gruesome death, probably a beheading. But for Paul, it was trip to look forward to, a going home, being freed from all the problems of this life.

And as he looks back, notice what he sees. He compares his last days to the drink offering. Now understand - a drink offering was the concluding act of a worshiper at the temple in offering a sacrifice.

Paul's life was one of sacrifice for God. Look at verse 7. He declares that he fought the good fight. He ran the whole course God had laid out for him. He guarded the faith. He was in prison because he would not let his testimony of the gospel be tainted. He fulfilled his purpose.

Is that what you see when you look back on your life? Are you living up to your purpose? For me, all too often, I see missed connections. I see plenty of fights that wouldn't be described as so good. I see those days when every other path looked more appealing than the course God had laid out for me.

You know those missed connections too, don't you? - when you acted like the game was more important than eternal life; when your time in bed was more important than your time with your Savior; when popularity was more important to you than "preaching the word, being prepared in season and out of season; correcting, rebuking, and encouraging," when your patience wasn't so great and you didn't care quite so much for instruction.

And for that, what should be in store for you is punishment; our "departure" should be away from the presence of God forever. But look at what Paul sees when he looks forward, verse 8: "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day," and get this, "and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

Paul says that he has a crown coming - and it is right to get it. The righteous judge has it all set and set aside for him. And so do we. It's for all who have "longed for" or literally "loved" his appearing.

That's what makes the difference between the departure we should have and the crown that's waiting. It's there at will-call for you. Just give your name that was covered with Christ's at your baptism, and the crown that has been waiting is there.

Why? Because you have loved his appearing. You celebrate Christmas not because of presents and parties, but because Jesus appeared. God took flesh.

He came to be "pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities" as Isaiah prophesied. So now, you long for the appearing of this righteous judge who is coming to take us home.

I know, he shouldn't, but he is. Even though we fail time and again to do anything to deserve a crown...even though we fail to run the course God has laid out for us, even though we act like our faith has no urgency - the righteous Judge declares us right, rightful wearers of the crown. Because Jesus didn't fail. Jesus never missed an opportunity to share the faith. He didn't misplace priorities, but willingly drank the cup we had coming because it was his Father's will. Jesus perfectly finished the race; he fought the good fight and called it "finished." So the Lord, the righteous judge, has in store for you that crown of victory.

That's something worth sharing. So let your love speak, before it is too late.

 

Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday is at 10:30 a.m. Full sermons and more information can be found at abidinggrace.com.

 

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