The Communal Pursuit of Godliness

This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on October 30 2016.

Second Timothy 2:22 is a verse I’ve long been familiar with. It asks the reader to do two things: “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace…” These two commands ask us to move in two directions – away from unwise habits and desires, and toward conformity to common virtues of the Christian life. The ‘so’ at the beginning connects this two-part command to the little parable of 2:20-21, which is an encouragement to be useful to the Lord.

But until just the other day, I had never really noticed the second half of the verse, which says: “…along with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.” This dual movement of flight and pursuit is meant to be done WITH others! More than that, it is not simply with ‘other Christians’ but rather ‘those who call on the Lord with a pure heart’ – those who are actively seeking him, and earnestly desiring to be like him and please him. The pursuit of godliness is meant to be done with others with sincere and active faith.

What does this even look like? Christian community as I’ve known it rarely promotes this pursuit in its communal aspect. It seems easier to talk about how everything else in life is going, and just hope that the other people in church are keeping on the narrow path. I don’t have much of an idea on how to foster this, or what it would look like in my own context. I haven’t experienced it all that much (aside from a few close Christian friends when I was younger), but I am certain that it would be a significant and stimulating step into Christian fellowship as Jesus wants it to be.