It’s always amusing to me to see the guy at a football game wearing a paper bag over his head. Whether the New Orleans Saints of a prior generation, or our more recent lowly favorite, the Cleveland Browns, the bag-on-the-head guy gets one thing right: it’s embarrassing to root for a pathetically bad football team.
That might be how Timothy felt about his father in the faith, Paul. As Paul sat shackled to the wall of a dark prison cell in Rome, you have to wonder if Timothy was ready to find a bag to put over his head and walk away from his calling. Certainly, Paul felt that anxiety regarding Timothy. It’s why he tells him to “rekindle the gift of God that is in you” and “don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner” (2 Timothy 1:6, 8). On the surface, living and working for the sake of the gospel looks about as likely as the Browns having a winning season next year (spoiler alert: it’s not going to happen).
Yet, Paul knows why he is on the losing side of the ledger and he wants to convince Timothy that this is exactly where the victory is found. Though Christianity looks like a loss to the world, it is actually power, life, and immortality to those who believe. The Savior who was betrayed, rejected, and crucified is the one who abolished death and enabled Paul to endure the suffering and shame of Roman imprisonment. Paul knew whom he had trusted, and he knew Christ would not let him fall.
Perhaps you feel like putting a bag over your head when it comes to displaying and declaring your faith in Christ. You fear what others will think about you, or even worse, what they may do to reject you. “Closet Christianity” seems to be a better way to go rather than being the guy publicly cheering on the “losing” squad week after week. Just as Paul told Timothy, so God’s Spirit says to us today, “Take off that paper bag! Don’t you know who your Savior is? Don’t you know the victory He has won? Don’t be ashamed! He has overcome!
Today let’s take courage and lay down our timidity toward the gospel. There is a world waiting to hear good news, and a victorious King enabling us to persevere to the victory.
Written by Jeremy Writebol