Summer is a weird season. If you are a student, it’s like the entire world just stops for a few months, and then picks back up later. If you’re not a student, its like the rest of the world stops for a few months and expects you to deal with it while you keep trying to get everything done. This past Sunday I had the opportunity to give our students a final encouragement before we break from our Sunday morning programming for the summer.
The encouragement I chose was a passage from 2 Timothy. This letter is rich in advice from Paul to his spiritual son Timothy in a season where they cannot be together, but Timothy has been sent out into ministry while Paul struggles to continue his work from prison. The context of this book struck me as perfect because I feel that summer is a similar season, to a lesser degree, for student ministry. The people that we have spent time investing in and loving over the past year are scattering, and we may not see them for a while, so my heart, like Paul’s, longs to send them with a word of strength to keep them during this time away.
2 Timothy 2:22 says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (ESV).
Here’s my three brief points of encouragement from this verse for my students, and anyone who finds themselves in the strange routine-busting vortex of summer break:
1. Flee from sin.
Run from it. Don’t let the freedom and relaxation of summer be a breeding ground for sin. I have found that summer is really good at eradicating any form of self discipline from my life, but if I believe that Jesus’ work on the cross has set me free from sin, then I am not called to give into sin, but to offer my life as worship to the God who saved me (Rom. 12:1).
2. Run to the Gospel.
Running from sin doesn’t work if you have nothing to run to and no reason to run. The passage says to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” None of these things can be found apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Righteousness before God only comes by the redemptive work of Jesus giving us His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). Faith in the work of Christ is the only means by which we find grace and are saved (Eph. 2:8). Love for God and love for others are the greatest commandments of the Bible (Mark 12:31), and we find our capacity to love God and others because God first loved us and sent Jesus to save us (1 John 4:19). Finally, our God gives His people peace (Psalm 29:11), and true peace and rest is found in the assurance offered through the Gospel (Matthew 11:28).
The encouragement here is to use your time off to grow in these things, clinging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t take a vacation from being your savior, so why would you take a vacation from looking to him.
3. Be in community.
The passage does not say to do these things alone, but “along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” The Christian walk is never meant to be a walk alone, we are called to grow alongside other believers, encouraging one another towards more faith in Christ (Heb. 10:25). Summer is a time of rest and relaxation for students, but unfortunately it also tends to be a time of isolation and boredom. Fight that. Gospel centered relationships are the most important thing we do in our ministry, and they are vital for believer’s growth in Christ. My application of this for our students is to be involved in our summer bible studies and events, but the encouragement is for every Christian. Be in Biblical community of some kind, even if it doesn’t look exactly like your normal routine.
Thats it, it’s not a lot, but I believe that scripture speaks for itself and is valuable to shape the way I live my life. These three things are vitally important for spiritual growth not only during the summer, but in all of life. If you’re a believer and find yourself in a season of change or even if it’s life as normal, please don’t neglect these things for the sake of your spiritual health and walk with God.
Would you join me in praying that students in West Austin would know and cling to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that it would spur them to run from sin and be in Biblical community.