Layers of Minions

May 14, 2017

Layers of Minions
As Sir Hiss was to Prince John and as
Donkey was to Shrek, so Timothy is to Paul. 
Sounds like a question on a game show.
What is “Henchman?”
Hiss was a Henchman, Donkey was a side-kick
and Timothy was a protégé but they were all Minions. 
And remember how the Oxford dictionary defines
a minion: “A follower or underling
of a powerful person, especially a servile or unimportant one.”
This is week two of our “Minions:  Playing Second Fiddle for God” series and you
know what they say, another sermon another pair of minion socks.  Well maybe they don’t say that, but they
should.
This week we are looking at Timothy who we
are first introduced to in the book of Acts and then later on there are two
books in the New Testament which were addressed to Timothy. 
1 and 2 Timothy are two of three books
which are referred to as “Pastoral Epistles.” Or Pastoral letters and they are
simply letters which Paul had sent to directly to pastors who he had
trained. 
So, the book of Ephesians was a letter that
was written to the church in Ephesus. 
But the books of 1 and 2 Timothy were letters which were written to the
Pastor of the church in Ephesus and that was Timothy.
Just like some letters that arrive in our
mailbox here at the church are addressed to Cornerstone Wesleyan Church and
others are addressed to Rev. Denn Guptill. 
So let’s start at the beginning, which is
usually a good place to start.    
The Apostle Paul is on what is referred to
as his Second Missionary  journey, it
began in Jerusalem and now he has ended up in Lystra, which is located in
modern day Turkey.
And we pick up the story in  Acts 16:1  Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where
there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but
his father was a Greek.  And so let’s
begin with the fact that
Timothy
was  a Young Minion  
I don’t know about
you but often times when I think of the heroes of the bible, I think of older,  more mature individuals. 
And in the case of Moses, who was 80 when he
was called to lead the People out of Egypt, or Abraham who was 99 when the
promise of becoming the father of a great nation was fulfilled the picture of
the man with the white beard is probably fitting. 
And, if you pause and picture, say the 12
Apostles, who were the Minions that we spoke of last week, you probably think
of Jesus surrounded by mostly older men.  
But the 12 were most likely in their twenties. 
Paul who was the architect of the early
church was in his early thirties when he was called. 
Jesus was only 30 when he began preaching
and 33 when he was crucified. 
So, while we don’t know how old Timothy
was, he was young enough that it was mentioned. 
And several years later Paul would write to Timothy and remind him in 1
Timothy
4:12
 Don’t
let anyone think less of you because you are young. . . .
The bible reminds us that age isn’t a
factor.  It wasn’t a factor when God
called those who were old and it wasn’t a factor when God called those who were
young.
Age shouldn’t be a limit on our dreams or
our calling.
Bill Gates was twenty when he founded
Microsoft and Steve Jobs was 21 when Apple started and Mozart had composed over
600 works by the time he died at the ripe old age of 35. 
On the other hand, Colonel Sanders was 62
years old when he founded KFC,  Christopher
Plummer won his first Oscar when he was 82 and Gladys Burrill completed her first marathon at the age of 92.  They called her the Gladyiator. 
God doesn’t have an upper or lower age
limit on who he chooses to uses.  Don’t
let anyone think less of you because of your . . . age.
What else can we discover?  Let’s keep reading. . .   Acts 16:1-2  . .  .His
mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek.  Timothy was well
thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. . . 
Timothy was young, but he wasn’t fresh out
of the box.
Timothy
was A Minion with a Heritage
Even though Timothy
was young he was mature in his faith. 
And the credit for that goes to two ladies in his life. 
If we go to the second letter that bears
Timothy’s name we read this about his heritage. 
  2 Timothy 1:5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the
faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I
know that same faith continues strong in you.
You catch the critical
word there?  The word faith.   Three times in thirty words Paul uses the
word faith.  We are told that it was a
genuine faith, that it was a shared faith and that it was a strong faith. 
The person that
Timothy was, had been shaped by his mother and grandmother, and that isn’t all
that surprising considering how much influence our mothers have over us. 
It was Napoleon who
said “Let France have good mothers, and she will have good sons.”  And in his poem by the same name William Ross
Wallace writes “For the hand that rocks the cradle Is
the hand that rules the world.”
And so according to
Paul, Timothy was who Timothy was because of Eunice.  His faith had been formed and shaped by the
faith of his mother and on this day when we celebrate Mothers it would be a good
time to realize that Timothy could never have become the man he became without
the influence of both his mother and Grandmother.
French philosopher Mirabeau was asked when
the education of a child should begin?  His
reply was “Twenty years before his birth, by educating his mother.”   
The actual title of this message is “Layers
of Minions” because while we see Paul as Timothy’s mentor there was a much more
important mentor in the story and that was Timothy’s mother Eunice and before
Eunice could be a mentor to her son she had a mentor in her mother, Lois.
Moms and dads, understand the responsibility
that falls to you.  We aren’t just
responsible for our children growing up healthy and productive, which is why
health care and education are priorities.  
But we are also responsible to introduce our kids to God. 
Ultimately it will be their decision as to
whether or not they will pursue that relationship but it’s up to us as parents
to make sure they understand the importance of it.
When you look at what you communicate and
demonstrate to your kids about God, the scriptures, their relationship to Jesus
and the church,  are you communicating a
genuine, strong shared faith?
And perhaps some of you  are thinking, “Well sure pastor but it’s not
that simple, my spouse isn’t a believer.”   
Remember the scripture that we started
with?  Timothy’s mother was a Jewish
believer, but his father was just identified as a Greek.  It’s not that Paul had anything against
Greeks, you see it wasn’t what Paul said about Timothy’s father it was what was
left unsaid. 
He was a Greek, not a Greek believer just a
Greek.  And so we have a household where
one spouse is a Christ follower and one isn’t and the challenges that are posed
in such situations can never be fully understood unless you are in that
situation.
That was the situation that Timothy’s
mother found herself in. she probably didn’t have to fight the hockey,
baseball, soccer, scouts, sparks, band battles but I’m sure there were similar
cultural concerns 2000 years ago. 
Would Timothy be in church and youth group
or would he be at the chariot races and practicing for the Olympics?
And so Eunice would have been practicing
her faith and raising her son in a less than ideal home situation.  Now we don’t know at what point in her
relationship she became a believer.  Was
she a Christ follower before the wedding or after the wedding? 
In her situation and culture that question
may have been irrelevant in that her marriage may very well have been arranged
and she didn’t have a choice of who she would marry or who would marry her.
And still she was able to be the godly
example that would lead her son to the place that he was a committed Christ
follower. 
Let’s keep reading.
Acts 16:3  .
. . so Paul wanted him (Timothy)  to join
them on their journey  After Paul met
Timothy and got to know him he saw the potential that Timothy had to help
change the world.
We don’t know what Timothy was doing at
that point in time, whether he was working at a trade or in school.  But Paul didn’t see him where he was, he saw
him where he could be. 
Timothy
was a Called Minion 
Notice that Paul didn’t just stand up and ask for volunteers to go
with him.  He saw in Timothy the
qualities he was looking for in a minion, I mean a protégée and he asked him to
join the adventure.
At Cornerstone, we don’t just stand up and say,
“Hey we need someone to serve in the Nursery or in Children’s ministry or on
the worship team”.  We aren’t looking for
warm bodies to fill spots.  You can be
assured that if you are invited to serve at Cornerstone it’s because we see in
you the potential to make a difference. 
John Sculley was the president of Pepsi
when he was hired by Steve Jobs to be the CEO of Apple computers and the pitch
that Jobs made was “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and
change the world?”
When we invite you to join us in ministry
at Cornerstone it is an invitation to change the world.  And I don’t say that lightly.
When you are asked to assist with our
children or youth you have the chance to make a difference in their
eternity.  Two of our teens committed
their hearts to Christ on Wednesday night, that wouldn’t have happened without
those who have committed to serve with the youth. 
I don’t know what plans Timothy had for the
rest of his life before that day, but I do know that he would go on to shape
the church in Ephesus and have an impact on the lives of hundreds if not
thousands of people.    Because someone believed in him and asked him
to serve.
And there are times we get all mystical and
spiritual about the call, after all Moses got a burning bush, Mary got an Angel
and Paul got a blinding light. 
But Jesus simply asked Peter to follow him,
and in this story it simply said that Paul wanted Timothy to join him on his
journey, so presumably he just asked.
And maybe when God calls you to serve it
will be through one of the staff at Cornerstone.  But when you are called to serve at
Cornerstone you are being called to make a difference in the lives of people
and in the Kingdom of God.
Let’s keep going.    Acts 16:3  . . . In deference to
the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they
left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek.
Can you imagine the conversation between
Paul and Timothy “You want me to do what?” 
“Why?”  It’s at this point that it
becomes very clear that   Timothy was a Committed Minion.   
Paul may have arranged for Timothy to be
circumcised but it wouldn’t have happened without Timothy’s consent.    It
didn’t say that Paul forced Timothy to be circumcised it says he arranged for
it to happen.
And whether we can understand that
rationale or not, it happened so that there wouldn’t be a anything that would
cause a barrier between the message and those who heard the message.
Paul would later write,  1 Corinthians 9:19-23  Though I am free and belong to no man, I make
myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews I
became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one
under the law
(though I
myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those
not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free
from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the
law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things
to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this
for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
If you asked Timothy why he allowed himself
to be circumcised I’m sure he would have replied, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might
save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in
its blessings.”
If we are committed to the mission, and
committed to reaching people there will often be a cost.  That’s why Jesus said we’d have to take up
our cross and why Paul spoke about being crucified daily. 
And that might be the cost associated with
stewardship or giving up a Sunday morning a month to teach our children or
giving up your Wednesday nights to help lead the youth group. 
Or simply surrounding our preferences in
what church is like so that Cornerstone can reach the pre-churched, the
de-churched and the un-churched.
One of my favourite websites is called the Babylon
Bee and it is satirical Christian site. 
The other day one head line read “Everything Local Man Feels Led To
Do He Coincidentally Really Likes” 
The article begins by saying WARAW, IN—Don Farmer, 43, reported Tuesday that he was
recently “led by God” toward several things he really likes—and in fact, as a
general rule, everything he feels spiritually moved to do he coincidentally
enjoys very much.
The article goes on to
report:  Additionally, he felt led
to attend the church’s Super Bowl Party last year, which it just so happens he
thoroughly enjoyed. The next Sunday, Farmer was unable to sign up for the
church outreach visit to the senior home or the juvenile detention center due
to the lack of a “nudge” from the Holy Spirit, but did feel moved to
participate in the Men’s Group’s Annual Chili Cook-Off. He was also able to
fend off several invitations by the church’s leadership to attend the new
discipleship class, sorrowfully noting that not only would the time interfere
with his Tuesday TV viewing lineup, but that he just didn’t feel as if he was
being led to a diligent study of the Word “in that season.”
“I’m always listening
for that still, small voice that just so happens to send me to do things I
already want to do,” said Farmer.
Most of you know that one of my passions is
training pastors in West Africa, I feel that is one of the high-level things
that I have done.  And I can be
passionate about it.
But it wasn’t like that from the
beginning.  My first trip was in 2007 and
I had only been in Ghana for a couple of days and I had determined that
whatever else happened in my life I wouldn’t be going back to Africa.
I don’t know what I was expecting the trip
to be like but it wasn’t like that. 
I found it hot, loud, dirty and
overwhelming and as far as I was concerned I had made my first and last trip to
the dark continent. 
That evening during my devotions I was
reading Acts 16 and discovered that what Timothy was willing to do in order to
be obedient to God.  And suddenly being
in Africa didn’t seem so bad. 
The next day I spoke to Joe Ocran the
National Superintendent of Ghana and asked what I could do to help fulfill the
mission in West Africa and we worked out a plan to help with the training of
their pastors.   But understand, Africa
isn’t my favorite place to be but being in the centre of God’s will is.
Being circumcised doesn’t always involve .
. . Well you know what it doesn’t always involve, but there is always a cost
involved. 
And when we arrive at the conclusion of
Timothy’s call we read this   Acts
16:4-5
 Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to
follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.  So the
churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day.
Timothy
was an Effective Minion
Timothy didn’t have a starring role in the
story of the early church, he was just Paul’s sidekick, his minion. 
And if it wasn’t for the two letter that
bear his name Timothy would hardly be a footnote in the New Testament story.  But he was a really important footnote to the
people he ministered to.
40 years from now when the two teens who
accepted Christ this week are telling the story to their grandchildren, they
might not be able to remember the fact that it was Stefan, Chad, Andrew, Lynn
and Kristen who we doing youth that night, but that won’t change the fact that
if Stefan, Chad, Andrew, Lynn and Kristen hadn’t been willing to give up their
Wednesday night the eternity of those young men might have looked very
different.
So the take away today?  Every one of us has the potential to be a
footnote in the story.