By Jamin Roller
For Christmas our family got tickets to a Dallas Mavericks game. My wife and kids are fans, but I’ve been following the team since I was in junior high and my fandom oscillates between normal and over-the-top. For most of the game it stayed at the normal level, but after a defensive stop that turned into a dunk on the other end, I couldn’t contain myself. I was on my feet, hands in the air, shouting something while looking around for a stranger to high five. Most everyone around me stayed seated and most everyone around me was looking at me, including my family.
My son looked at me, then turned to the people behind us and said: “We don’t know this guy.”
It was a joke, but I had drawn a bit of embarrassing attention to myself and because they were with me, they shared in that embarrassment. There was a light-hearted cost in being associated with me and in response to that cost, my son playfully disowned me.
Paul is writing his second letter to his “beloved child” and begins with a loving charge to him: “So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God” (2Timothy 1:8).
For Timothy, there was a cost in being associated with Jesus. It was not light-hearted, momentary embarrassment, it was real loss and lifelong suffering. It was costly to claim Christ and if there was any part of Timothy that was considering an “I don’t know this guy” moment, Paul’s charge is to not be ashamed to claim Jesus Christ as yours.
He reminds Timothy that he stands in a family lineage who have remained faithful to Jesus in his mother and grandmother (v.5). Paul also points to his own example in his current imprisonment (v.11–12). The main reason he gives for remaining faithful to Jesus Christ despite the cost is that Jesus is worth it. He says, “this has now been made evident through the appearance of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (v.10).
Being united with Jesus Christ and unashamed of Him means we join Him in His great victory over sin and death, no matter what suffering comes. That means that no matter what suffering comes, we can boldly cling to Jesus knowing as Paul says, “he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day” (v.12).
While I am not faced with the same cost of following Jesus Christ that Timothy was, I do live in a world where I am tempted to distance myself from Jesus to avoid discomfort. This passage reminds me that I too have a spiritual lineage of brothers and sisters who were not ashamed to claim Christ. Mostly, it reminds me that I have a Savior who suffered in my place and secured a future for me and He is worthy of my unwavering allegiance to Him. May we not be ashamed of Him.