Perhaps you have seen the movie Gran Torino. It is, among other things, the story a man who learns both how important and how fulfilling it is to mentor someone. In it, a racist character played by Clint Eastwood comes to welcome an Asian boy as his “true son.” (Please note: I am not necessarily recommending that movie here; it is rated R, and it is rated R for good reason.)
That is how Paul refers to Timothy in today’s reading; as his “true son in the faith.” That Paul sought to mentor Timothy and other young men like him tells us something about how Paul saw the faith. He didn’t just see it as a set of propositions to be believed; he saw it as a way of life to be learned.
Of course, that is how Jesus seemed to understand faith as well. That is why he had disciples; his followers were people who didn’t just hear him speak, but who observed day in and day out how he did life and sought to emulate him accordingly.
When we realize the truth of this—that Christianity isn’t just something to be embraced only in the private and personal confines of our heart and head, but lived in very social and public ways out in the world, then we realize how important it is that we follow both Paul and Jesus’ example of being mentors too.
Clearly this does not just pertain to men, but also to women. The point is that we invest ourselves in the lives of others as together we help them live the faith. Who are you and I mentoring?
Finally, I’d also point out these verses also include the beautiful passage included in the “Comfortable Words” that follow confession in the Episcopal Rite 1 Liturgy for the Holy Eucharist: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. To that we can only say, AMEN!