Proper 20 (25) (September 18, 2016)
- First reading and Psalm
- Alternate First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
1 Timothy 2:1-7 | New International Version (NIV)
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
Wow! Paul writes quite a bit in these seven verses. How timely is the first sentence in our passage this week. Two weeks ago, our church started a corporate prayer emphasis. By that I mean that on Wednesday nights, we gather as a church body and we pray. Our format for the evening is simple. Usually I will start with some sort of scripture, then we will sing some songs to help us focus us and lead us into prayer. Following that time of musical worship, we take time to receive praises and prayer requests. And following that, we pray. I think it is important for us to pray as individuals and it is important for us to pray as a body. The first few weeks have been amazing and it has drawn our church together and I look forward to our continued times of corporate prayer.
As I look at this passage, Paul instructs us to pray for all people – our petitions – our intercession – and thanksgiving — should be for all people. That doesn’t seem too hard until he adds that we should be praying for kings and those in authority. I don’t think I have to say too much about this year’s election season – except that we – Christians – need to be in prayer. We need to ask for wisdom and discernment for who we should elect to office. It’s interesting in this passage that Paul says to pray for those in authority – what he doesn’t say is that we should pray for those in authority that we like or we agree with – it says to pray for all people in authority. Perhaps the reason that we are in the place that we are today is because we are far too willing to give our opinion of how things are going in politics rather than pray – just pray – and live lives of quietness and holiness. That is not to say that we shouldn’t be involved. I think back to how the Wesleyan church got started – back in 1843. Five men who saw the injustice of slavery and saw that their church – their denomination wasn’t going to do anything about it, started a new movement. It was dangerous to do what they were doing – especially as the movement moved to the south. This new movement of churches was intent on pursuing holiness and pursuing justice. It wasn’t long after slavery was abolished that these same Wesleyan Methodists allowed their church in Seneca Falls, NY to be used for the first women’s rights convention – headed up by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Wesleyan Methodists were on the forefront of proclaiming scriptural holiness and pursuing justice. And to be sure these early Wesleyan Methodist certainly held to proclaiming the gospel that Jesus came for all.
Which by the way is Paul’s next point. God desires that all people should be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. Jesus said he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. This is what Paul meant by Jesus being the mediator between God and man. Jesus – fully God – fully man gave himself up as a ransom – most of us are familiar with what a ransom is…a ransom is to obtain the release of (a prisoner) by making a payment demanded. We were dead in our sins and Jesus made the payment that was required = the sacrifice for our sins – Jesus is part of the new covenant that doesn’t require a constant sacrifice of blood for our sins. Jesus paid the price once and for all – transcending space and time. Remember what Paul writes in Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Christ died for all – Christ died to save us all – God desires that no one perish in their sins. Christ was the ransom for all.
It is for this purpose that we were saved – to spread this Good News to people everywhere – in our valley – in our communities – in our townships and counties – and around the world.