"I have fought the good fight, I have fin'ished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim 4:7)
St. Paul in his final discourse is writing to Timothy regarding his imminent departure as he is going to face the persecution at the hands of the Romans. Paul was beheaded by the Romans. Expecting his execution he was ready to face it with courage as he had a hope. What was the hope? The hope of the crown of righteousness. Do we fear death? A Christian should not fear death. For the past one year our church has been exploring on the theme "Parish as a healing community". Healing has to be envisaged on every aspect of our life. A life with a perspective of eternity should be our ground. St. Paul is well confident of the life that he has spent. Are we confident that our life is spent meaningfully for the Lord. Let us take certain urgent steps ...
1) Fight the good fight
The Damascus experience was the turning point in the life of Paul. His perspectives changed. He considered knowing Christ as the greatest treasure. Do we have a Damascus experience? He had lots of struggles too. He always compared the life of a Christian with an athletic race. To win the race discipline is needed. The body has to be subjected to strict discipline. What is the good fight? St. Paul had a struggle with the flesh. We don't know what is the thorn that he had but one thing is evident that Jesus said "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness". In this world also we have a struggle with the flesh like food, sex, money, the attractions of this world etc. This is a struggle. How can we fight against this? We cannot rely on our power but only on the power from above. Yes that's the power of the Holy Spirit and His Grace. A daily walk with the Lord is essential. The daily bread devotion guide had a beautiful quote "Knee mail is faster than e-mail". We have to fall on our knees and invest spiritually for our children and the church. Fasting and prayer is very essential for our spiritual walk with the Lord. Fast at-least one day for your children in a month.
2) Finish the race
John Stephen Akwari an athelete from Tanzania participated in the Olympics 1968. In the marathon event he had run about 30km and met with an injury in his leg and had to travel 12kms more. But he did not quit. Though he was the last he decided to finish the race. He responded by saying that "My country has not just sent me to start the race but also to finish the race." Yes my dear friends we cannot quit in between. We have to endure hardship and struggles but hold on to God. We have to finish the race. We are witnessing many people in society committing suicides, leaving their very faith but let me tell there is no escape route other than finishing the race with the hope of receiving an imperishable crown from our Lord.
3) Keep the faith
It may sound very simple but its not . The real test is in times of struggles and adversities. Faith is tested. Faith is trusting in the truth .The truth is Jesus Christ. St. Paul is telling that the truth has to be spoken cut and clear not according to the itching ears of the people. Putting away all the myths and relying on the truth (sound doctrine) is the need of the hour. Let us also pray for those who are being persecuted for faith.
Conclusion- I and my family first of all thank God Almighty for His guidance and strength throughout the past three years. I give all Glory to God. Secondly I thank the church for giving this opportunity and especially Rt. Rev.Geevarghese Mar Athanasius Suffragan Metropolitan for his care and guidance provided to me in our ministry here. Thanks to all the vicars and assistant vicars Rev.Philip C. Mathew, Rev. Philip George, Rev.P. John Philip, Rev. Sunil M. John and their families. Gratitude to all the office-bearers and the committee members during my tenure. Token of love to Joychayan, Sana) and Biju who took care of us. Last but not the least thanks to all my small and beautiful children, youths and elders who have encouraged us and prayed for us.
Yours in His service,
Rev. Roby J. Mathew, Linsa, Joel & Jocelyn