On Master Yoda, Charles Wesley and Keeping a Charge. . .

3.2.14      Epiphany- Day 55

2 Timothy 4:1-8 (ESV)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.


There’s an old Charles Wesley hymn (then again, I suppose all Charles Wesley hymns are old) called “A Charge to Keep I have.” I love how Charles Wesley breaks into the dialect of Master Yoda from time to time. (i.e. “Strong in the force, I am.” “A Charge to keep, I have.”) Here’s verse one:

“A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify, a never dying soul to save, and fit it for the sky.”

I ask myself today, “Do I have a charge to keep?” A charge is not a mission statement. Mission statements are put together by individuals or organizations to guide their organizations or lives. A charge is not something you come up with. It is something spoken personally to you, even better, spoken “into” you. In the text above, Paul issues a solemn charge to Timothy. Jesus spoke a charge into his disciples before he ascended into heaven. The writer of Hebrews issues a strong charge at the beginning of the twelfth chapter. “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

The Bible is filled with charges, but it’s not enough to read them; we must personalize them to ourselves. I must stand in the place of the original hearer and receive the charge to myself. Nor does a charge  have to begin with formulaic words such as “I charge you.” As an example, I am receiving Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 14:1 as a personal charge. In similar fashion, people can write charges to one another in the present day. Years ago I asked my mentor, Maxie Dunnam, to write a charge to me in the blank pages at the back of my Bible. The first words of that charge perpetually guide me: “John David, always keep the gift of the Holy Spirit stirred up inside you!” I love how Timothy Tennent always issues a charge to the new graduates of our seminary.

Is there a particular charge from Scripture or from another person out of which you are living at the present time? Start reading the bible with an eye  for charges. Put a star in the margin every time you find one. And resist the temptation to try and personalize them all at the same time. ;0) Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you into a fitting one for the present season. (jdw)

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