1 Timothy 2:1-8 When the church sets her vision aright, the nation flourishes
1 Timothy 2:1-8
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the martyrdom at an appointed time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle ( I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
* The NASB translates: the testimony given at the proper time. As the term “testimony” can also mean “martyrdom” in the original language. This translation is preferred: the martyrdom at an appointed time.
Paul charges Timothy to set aright the vision and commission of the church. What is good and acceptable in the sight of God is an ordered society that is founded on justice and equity regardless of race or religion. Hence, Paul institutes prayers made on behalf of all men as a permanent order that must be observed as part of worship liturgy. In today’s devotion, we learn the importance of setting our sights outward towards the real world. The endgame of the church is not to fill up the worship halls, but to inculcate into the fabric of society virtues of godliness and dignity. It is through this that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is established in the world.
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men… This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.
Paul sets aright the church’s vision and goals by establishing a liturgy of entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority. The role and purpose of the church first of all is not to create a more conducive church life for her members but to promote godliness and dignity in the society leading to a tranquil and quiet life. The church exists not for herself, but for the wellbeing of the society at large. The expression of this vision is not restricted to the church’s prayer agenda but to their lifestyle of being a positive influence to the society. The church’s vision should entail the transformation of societal attitudes towards godliness, to promote morality and characteristics worthy of respect (dignity). However, the church’s scope and sphere of influence should include kings and all who are in authority. What is on Paul’s mind is a good government that brings peace, freedom from war and civil strife and where the marginalised are given due attention. Notice the phrase: This is good and acceptable in the sight of God – an ordered society that is founded on justice and equity regardless of race or religion. Hence, God extends special grace to churches that support governments towards building an equitable, peaceful and just society. A society that has high standards in governance, justice and equity is most conducive for all people to come to the knowledge of the truth and to be saved. Although many find God in moments of national distress, it is God’s will that people encounter Him and worship Him during times of peace and prosperity.
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
The best strategy for evangelism is to first create a climate of equity, justice and peace in the society. Without this underlying foundation, an excessively zealous and aggressive stance in the approach to evangelism may in fact hinder the acceptance of Christ Jesus as Lord among the people. Bearing in mind the indisputable fact that there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, those who seek God in earnest will eventually find Him. The power of the gospel cannot be veiled, the lordship of Christ is overwhelmingly evident in a society founded on justice, equity and peace. Therefore, churches must be united while working with other religious organisations towards social courses. The martyrdom of Christ is central to Christendom and must not be discredited by petty ambitions and rivalry among the churches: Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
When the church sets her sights outwards towards the society at large, the nation flourishes.
It is not so much the prayers of the church that revitalise the nation, but a right vision based on Christ’s commission. Paul, by charging the church to pray for all men as opposed to enlarging their membership, he establishes the right vision for the church. In the process of praying for the nation and its governors, God establishes His mandate within the church. The mandate of the church is in no uncertain terms to inculcate the virtues of godliness and dignity into the fabric of society. It is through this that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is established on earth. Therefore, the endgame of the church is not to fill up the worship halls, but to establish a society based on godliness and dignity starting with the communities in her vicinity.
When the church sets her sights outwards, the believer’s attitude and approach to evangelism will be very different. The primary concern will be for the needs of the community as opposed to conversion; their children’s education, their physical and emotional wellbeing etc. It is through an unadulterated motive of love and friendship that Christ’s entrance as the Saviour finds its proper place. People reject the message of the gospel predominantly because of the mixed signals the Christian community sends. Perhaps, some churches in their zeal to save sinners could have altered the image of Christendom. Some churches who position the gospel as a divine means to personal gain could have turned away true seekers. Yet there are also churches whose culture and message fails to connect with society. Nevertheless, when churches set their sights outwards, serving the community with a pure motive, the gospel will find relevance in the hearts of the people.
To impact the society for God, believers must return to the model of Christ and emulate Him.
Pastors extend their reach through the use of the pulpit in the confines of the church, their influence being limited by time and space. They have to traverse cultural barriers and navigate the backgrounds of peculiar individuals making it almost impossible to touch every heart. However, when it comes to members doing the outreach work, such inherent barriers to evangelism immediately disappears. Members project the story of the gospel in real life situations much like Jesus in physical form in the days of the gospel. Here, the Spirit projects the gospel message personally and touching where it truly matters. Jesus reaches out to the Samaritan woman at the well and accepted her with full knowledge of her shameful past. In the modern day society where people are continually bombarded with a myriad of messages, people no longer believe what they hear but what they see. Until they see and hear for themselves the Christ, it remains as mental-assent. In fact, people furthest from the gospel are those who live ethical lives while doing their part for the marginalised. It is sad to say that many non-Christians seem to live more fulfilling lives than Christians who supposed that Christ is a means of gain for their selfish agenda.
How can the church extend her influence beyond earshot of the pulpit? That is by the believers’ very lives through which the world may see the godliness and dignity of Christ! The gospel of prosperity has been wearing thin, apart from feeding the mortal desires of the misled, it has little power when it comes to injecting the spirit of godliness and dignity into the fabric of society. The church is tasked not to rescue people from hell, but to disciple them after the godliness and dignity of Christ. The church is not called to make rich the poor, but to cause them to obtain the eternal riches of Christ. The task of transforming society according to godliness and dignity will be realised when church leaders and their members return to the model of Christ and to emulate Him. As Jesus ascends to the Father’s righthand, He charges the church to make disciples and to emulate Him.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20
It is the duty of every believer to contribute towards the betterment of society. Therefore, each believer apart from contributing towards the expenses of the church through tithes and offerings must play his part towards the marginalised. And it must be a sustainable and enduring ministry throughout the life of the believer. Time and financial resources are the means through which this endeavour can be fulfilled. Especially pressing in many parts of the world are ministry of helps towards impoverished children. There are also families who are incapable of educating and supporting their children through school. It is here that financial resources and time can make a great difference. Contact your pastor to discuss ways in which you could contribute to the needs of the community in your nation.
Dear Lord, forgive me for being self-centred and being unduly worried about my own future. I believe that as I seek the establishment of your kingdom in the community, I will experience your provision and providence. Set my heart in the right direction, and my feet will follow. I avail my time and my financial resources to where it matters most to your kingdom. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.