As we celebrate holidays that point to freedom (Juneteenth, Independence Day), let’s not forget that Jesus gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone!
2 Kings, chapters 4-5; Psalm 83; 1 Timothy, chapter 2
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For,
“there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.”
This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating – just telling the truth.
Paul’s letter to Timothy is interesting for a number of reasons. Paul writes to give Timothy direction on how to do the work that God had called them to do. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post (Don’t Miss the Point!), Paul told Timothy: “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and growing faith” (1 Timothy 1:6). That was part of his charge to Timothy to “stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth” (1 Timothy 1:3).
But because he’s writing to Timothy, his “true son in the faith” and his protégé in ministry, he goes back and forth between what we would consider “doctrine” and his personal practices. I believe he’s speaking personally at the end of chapter 2, when he repeatedly sets forth his practices, such as
I don’t believe these were meant to be doctrinal statements, as though they applied to everyone; I believe Paul is simply setting forth his practice.
But in the first half of chapter 2, I believe Paul is speaking doctrinally. He repeatedly talks about what pleases God, and what God has done. First, he encourages Timothy to pray for all people. He then proceeds to specifically include kings and all who are in authority. When you think about it, that admonition appears several times in Scripture. For instance:
That submission, in Paul’s mind, includes praying for them. But we are not only to pray for our rulers; Paul urges Timothy to pray for all people. God’s purpose is that everyone [would] be saved and understand the truth (verses 3-4).
In verse 6, Paul reminds us that Jesus gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. Yesterday was Juneteenth, the federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery after the Civil War. In a couple of weeks, we’ll celebrate Independence Day, which marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Those two holidays celebrate freedom – but true freedom comes from the forgiveness and reconciliation that Christ made possible through his death and resurrection.
As I noted above, Paul proclaims that God wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. He also calls us to participate in his saving work. And how do we do that? First, by praying for all people. Second, by living peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. And third, we are to bear witness to the message God gave the world at just the right time.
We can’t separate parts of our calling, and do some of them and not the others. If we’re to be obedient, we have to do them all.
I’m not sure which parts of God’s calling other people struggle with most, but I would imagine that the easiest part is to pray for all people. That doesn’t mean I think it’s easy, just that it’s easier than the others. Judging from the current state of our society, I think it’s a toss-up between the other two as to which is hardest for us. I see and hear a lot of Christians who engage in confrontational rhetoric. That seems to me to be at odds with living peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
But I also think that many people struggle with bearing witness to the message God gave the world. While many people are willing to be confrontational on social media, and in other situations that allow for the boldness of anonymity, I fear fewer people are willing to talk with other people, face to face, about the message. That message – There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus – is often muted for fear of offending others.
That’s why it’s so important for us to live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. If we approach people in a confrontational manner, they will likely be unwilling to listen to what we say, no matter how good the “good news” may be.
Jesus announced the values of God’s Kingdom to his disciples at the very beginning of his ministry, in the Sermon on the Mount. Who did he say God blesses?
Jesus was confrontational when he needed to be, but he seems to have directed his anger primarily at the religious types who were misleading others. His anger at sin seems to be focused on Satan, rather than those who were trapped in sinful lifestyles and habits. For them, Jesus wanted freedom. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. That’s the message we’re called to proclaim!
Father, thank you for reminding us that the kingdom is not about fighting with other people; it is about fighting against the enemy of our souls. Jesus gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone, and he calls us to share that good news with others. Thank you for the freedom that we have found in Christ. Help us to live in ways that reflect that freedom and draw others to you. Amen.
Written by: OchriO