Now that the voting is over and we know who will be our next president, the Scriptures make it clear what the church’s first responsibility is: Prayer. In Paul’s first letter to Timothy he gives instruction to the church:
1First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling… (1 Timothy 2)
What does this mean for us in our contemporary situation? Yesterday, we saw what we are to do (i.e. pray and give thanks for those leaders that God has placed over us) and to what end we are to pray (i.e. we are to pray for our leaders, so that we might be able freely and peaceably proclaim and practice the gospel). In today’s Kingdom Perspective, we want to explore why we are to do that.
What is the justification for such an attitude of prayer? Why are we to pray in this way? At least three reasons are given to us in verses three and following. First, we are to pray this way because God desires all sorts of people to be saved; God is no respecter of persons. Now, the use of this word “saved” tells us something significant about the nature of our relationship to God. It tells us that our coming to know the truth of God is not a matter of our moral, cultural or spiritual status but a matter of God’s grace. We do not reach God’s kingdom by our resume, but by His rescue. In other words, to find “qualified candidates” for salvation, God doesn’t look at our moral, racial, spiritual, political pedigree or positions. He simply looks at our need. It is only our pride that would lead us to judge and exclude others from the reach of God’s mercy—a maneuver, by the way, that tacitly denies the grace we profess to possess. God is an equal opportunity Savior.
So, we pray because God is no respecter of persons (He desires all sorts of people to be saved). But, secondly, we pray because there is, in truth, only one king. What do we mean by this? Notice that Paul in verse 5 refers to Jesus with His title in front of his name. He says “Christ Jesus” and not “Jesus Christ”. This is really helpful, because it disabuses us of the notion that “Christ” is Jesus’ last name. It is not. It is a title. And what does that title mean? It means “anointed king”. So while Paul is calling us to pray for “kings and all who are in authority” he reminds us of the King of kings and His authority over the affairs of men. In effect Paul is saying that there’s only one sovereign God, only one ruler on earth—and His name is King Jesus. All other “authority” is derived from Him—King Jesus gives it and King Jesus takes it away. Therefore when we call on the Caesar of Heaven and not merely complain to Caesar of Rome, we are actually petitioning the highest authority.
So, we are to pray this way because God is no respecter of persons, and because Jesus is the highest authority. Finally, we see that we are to do this because it is the way of Jesus. Notice that Paul just doesn’t say who Jesus is but also what Jesus did. Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all. We see here again that Jesus didn’t merely act for the sake of a particular ethnic, political, or cultural group. Rather, He did this for all kinds of people—a diverse group that no man can count. Jesus “was slain, and by [His] blood…[He] ransomed a people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). But how did He ransom this diverse group? Did He do so at a distance or with little cost to Himself? No. He did so up close and personal. He did so at the cost of His own blood, His own life. So we too are to sacrifice our comfort, our convenience, for the sake of our friends and neighbors, whomever they may be. As the church, we are to engage our world as Jesus did, not seeking the place of prominence and privilege but service and sacrifice.
And what is the first task in this sacrificial service? Prayer!
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…” (1 Timothy 2:1)
Something to think about from “The Kingdom Perspective”.