When I was in school, we were required to take a foreign language. I chose German mostly because of my interest in WWII. But there are two things I grew to appreciate about the German language: its love of following the rules, and its tendency to make new words by simply piling up existing words. With the possible exception of Scandinavian languages, German vocabulary contains some of the world’s longest words — words with a history and context built-in.
It is often difficult to communicate context, especially emotional context, with our words, especially when our words are reduced to tweets. Faced with this shortcoming, social media had extended verbal expression through emojis and #hashtags. Now everything must have a hashtag. Like mushrooms after rain, they spring up everywhere words abound – attempting to give clarity, context and community to our thoughts. Paradoxically, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts typically have more #hashtags than content. #Hashtags allow us to attach our words to a cause and to a conversation larger than our expression. This is the power of slogans – slogans printed on hats, slogans inscribed on wristbands, and slogans embedded in #hashtags.
But, while slogans have power to stir the imagination, much more than a catchy #hashtag is needed to actually change the world. The Apostle Paul understood this. As he nears the end of his life, imprisoned and facing Roman execution, he writes a second letter to his protegee, Timothy, to encourage him to hold fast to his calling in the face of mounting opposition, both inside and outside of the church. Just as the Lord commanded Moses’s successor, Joshua, to “be strong and courageous,” Paul charges his successor, Timothy, to #StayStrong.
But he gives him more than a slogan. He leaves him with powerful illustrations of just what it takes to #StayStrong. Paul had turned the world upside down with his gospel and he knew that it took much more than a viral #hashtag. Likewise, we are commanded to #StayStrong in our calling as followers of Christ and world-changers. But we need someone to show us the way. Through Paul’s instructions to Timothy, we have several vivid pictures that mark out a pattern for us to follow in order to #StayStrong in Christ.
Join us this Lord’s Day, March 1, as we look at this pattern in 2 Timothy 2:1-13 and learn what it takes to #StayStrong. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.