Anyone who does family ministry or incorporates an “Orange” strategy of partnering with parents has most certainly heard Deuteronomy 6 used as the theological framework for thinking orange. I agree that Deuteronomy 6 is an excellent scripture to use, but I wondered if there were any Biblical instances where that type of ministry was actually successful (Israel’s history isn’t exactly the perfect model of living a life of faith).
It was while preparing a sermon titled, Think Orange, and desperately trying not to use Deut. 6 as my theme verse, that I realized there is one person in particular whose life was drastically impacted by the intersection of Godly parenting and church instruction. That person was the young man Timothy.
As you may recall, Timothy was mentored by Paul and Paul often refers to him as a son. Paul mentions Timothy in all but three of his New Testament Epistles. Timothy traveled on a few journey’s with Paul and eventually was asked by him to stay and lead the church at Ephesus. Ephesus was where the Temple of Artemis was located and was also one of the largest cities of the Roman Empire. For those two reasons, it was a center of pagan worship but under Timothy’s leadership, the Ephesian church grew.
2 Timothy 1:5 gives us a unique glimpse into the influence of Timothy’s family on his faith. Paul mentions that both Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, and Timothy’s mother, Eunice, were Christians. It is believed that it was Lois who first accepted Christ, then Eunice, then Timothy.
What is exciting about this is that even though Timothy’s father was a Greek and was never mentioned as having any impact on his Christian faith, he became a God-fearing man and a leader of the early church. It was Timothy’s mother and grandmother who instructed him. In 2 Timothy 3:15, we learn that he was educated in the Holy Scriptures even from childhood. Since Paul was not around then and the “Church” was a new concept, it is almost certain that it was his mother who was diligent in teaching her son the Bible.
The Orange Result
As a child, Timothy was instructed primarily by his mother and grandmother. As he grew a little older, Paul became a mentor, like a modern-day small group leader or Sunday School teacher. As Timothy entered young adulthood, he leaned more and more on the church influences and less on the family influence, but both remained strong in his life.
If we will equip families to teach their kids and then work alongside them to be the second voice saying the same thing, I believe we have the potential to see a generation of students who are much like Timothy. They will be those who, even from a young age, “set an example in speech, in life, in faith and in purity.”
According to Church Tradition, Timothy was eventually martyred for his faith, stoned to death in the streets of Ephesus while attempting to preach the Gospel during a pagan parade of idols. That’s what a real Orange strategy can do. It can create a generation of people who love God so passionately, even death can’t keep them from speaking out.