Sanity

1 Timothy 2:1-4

“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all Godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.”

I am definitely motivated by current events to share this scripture.  These events highlight how quickly the peace, prosperity, and freedom that I enjoy in my country can be hindered, manipulated, or brought to a halt.

In citing this scripture, I am also convicted to acknowledge that the conditions were different in the time and place in which this scripture was written.  Imprisonment and/or death at the hands of either governmental or religious authorities was a much more real possibility.  Perhaps it’s easy in a country where we have had such favorable conditions, to romanticize those circumstances.  I feel like what many of us have in our head is more like a big, heroic movie, and less like the realities that martyrs actually experienced.  Yes, there is something heroic about those people and their lives, and we need to hear their stories, but, you do not want to live in the kind of societal conditions that lead to such persecution.  It’s not a movie.  Maybe we get bored with our cushy lives and covet ones that aren’t.  It is flawed to think to yourself, “If only such-and-such conditions were in place, then my faith would be built up, then there would be revival, then things would be different.”  (I think the flaw in this sort of thinking gets exposed in Luke 16:27-31.)

In sharing 1 Timothy 2:1-4, I do not intend to simply bolster the status quo.  There is a struggle in my mind about praying, “Lord, I really like the standard of living that I have, please preserve it.”  However, this scripture seems to affirm the value and the Godliness of a tranquil and quiet life, and also acknowledges the importance of the condition of the society in which that life is lived.  Somehow, it’s easy to pit spirituality against the activities of daily human life.  Keep in mind that the same apostle Paul who said so much about spiritual and eternal things also said, “Now if anyone does not provide for his own relatives, and especially for his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8), and also, “…we commanded you, ‘If anyone is not willing to work, he should not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)  Considering further the value of daily life, think about how Jesus spent his first thirty years doing normal human things, and three doing what we call ministry.  Think about how both Abraham and Moses embarked on their famous journeys of faith later in life.

If I could condense my thoughts down to one point, what would it be?

I appreciate the sanity this scripture brings to the scene in which I live today.

When a lawyer of His day pop-quizzed Jesus about which commandment was the greatest,

“He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important commandment.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and Prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

No matter what is happening in the larger society, you always have you, your neighbor, and God, and you have the ability to affect those relationships positively.  That is really all that you would have if the rest of society fell apart.  Those are the foundational things.  You couldn’t have the benefits of the larger society without these smaller, humbler things functioning first.  So, pray that they have the freedom to function and to bear the fruit that they could if left untrammeled.

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