16:1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.
Yesterday we focused on the issues surrounding Timothy being circumcised in order to gain cultural credibility with the Jews. Today I want to look at another "but". One of the interesting ways to study the Bible is by looking at the "but" and the "if" verses.
Today's "but" is a messy one. Timothy's mother was a Jew who believed BUT his father was Greek. Why the but? Because that makes his father a gentile and since there is no mention of him believing that makes the marriage and home doubly divided. First they are culturally divided and secondly religiously divided. As I mentioned in passing yesterday Timothy would have been considered a half breed by the Jews and his mother's marriage a scandal.
The Samaritans were disdained by the Jews for the same reason. They had intermarried with the Assyrians. The only "advantage" Timothy had was that the Assyrians were far more hated by the Jews than the Greeks were.
What this all brings us to is the reality that we don't get to choose our culture, our parents, the religion or atheism of our home life as a child, or any of the social and economic dynamics that surround us. We are born into whatever they may be and live with the implications, complications, and consequences, whatever they may be.
In Timothy's home his father clearly had a strong influence because Timothy was not circumcised. Jesus was crucified in AD 33 and it is now AD 49 so clearly the choice to not have him circumcised was not based on the decision of the Jerusalem council because the ink is barely dry on that letter and Timothy is now a young man. If his mother had had him circumcised it would have been done shortly after his birth. We can speculate on why she didn't but seeing as the rite was both religious and cultural even a back sliding Jew would circumcise their sons. The most obvious reason is that dad didn't want it done. However since we're speculating it is also possible the local Jewish priest refused to circumcise a half breed. Hopefully that wasn't the case but it is not outside the realm of possibility.
I bring all this out to show you the very practical real life issues Timothy was dealing with from birth. He didn't fit in with the Jewish kids because he was Greek. He didn't fit in with the Greek kids because he was Jewish. To the Jews he was a half breed. To the Greeks he was a Jewish misfit.
What is remarkable about Timothy is that he didn't play the victim. He never let the negative complications of his situation taint his character. How do we know this? Because others were drawn to him. He stood out in the crowd as a fine young man. Somewhere along the way his mother learned about Jesus and clearly Jesus had a stronger influence on him than any of the inherited baggage he was saddled with from birth.
The Bible is full of people who found the love of God and rose above their cultural, social, economic, and religious baggage. That's the beauty of the Story. He calls us all from wherever we started out and His sweet influence makes us sweet.
We can't choose where we came from but we can choose where we are going. Choose Him. Every day is sweeter than the day before. :)