In need of peace
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of peace in the world right now.
So many problems that are not easily resolved, and the feelings heaped on top of the issues make them that much harder to sort out. Hurt. Injustice. Anger. Hatred. Hopelessness.
There are also many competing ideas on how to solve these issues and the feelings attached to them. We hear a steady stream of suggestions: some advocate that the government should pass additional laws, some want retribution and violence, some want more of God, others are calling for less of God, and others still are looking to smaller ‘gods’ to escape – like money, stuff, isolation, the appearance of safety, anything to find what we are all deep down really looking for:
I hear people say we should ‘Pray for Peace’ and send our ‘thoughts and prayers’ to those who need it now. I also hear those who complain that ‘thoughts and prayers’ haven’t fixed anything, given that the tragedies keep coming.
So how’s a Christian supposed to handle all of this? Once again, Paul’s direction to Timothy for the believers in Ephesus is helpful. Notice that Paul recognizes our desire for peace in this life, but also look for what he says accompanies it:
1 Timothy 2:1-2
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.
The goal of our prayers for all those who are in authority is so their leadership will follow God and His design for human government. The end result of that kind of leadership will heavily influence our ability to lead a tranquil and quiet life. However, while the Ephesian believers are to pray for these things, Paul also expects them to live life in godliness and dignity.
Godliness can best be thought of as “God-like-ness” where we mirror the characteristics of God that He has shown us. Things like mercy, grace, love, sacrifice, and forgiveness – when we understand what those words mean and how God shows them to us, then we can mimic those traits in our own life. Being godly is displaying God-like traits to those who are completely undeserving of that kind of treatment, just like God has done for us.
When we imitate God this way, it doesn’t guarantee that everything goes perfect for us – or that we should pretend that everything is going perfectly, either. When life goes sideways (and it will), how well we are connected to God is on full display. Being godly and acting with dignity is sure to stand out in the turmoil going on around us. We need to actively pursue God-like-ness while we pray for those same characteristics to show up in our leaders.
So don’t give up. Take Paul’s advice to Timothy and make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings…for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority. Not because the act of praying changes anything. Do it because you know the power of the One you are praying to.
And then let’s get out there and reenact the qualities that God has shown us – mercy, grace, love, sacrifice, and forgiveness – for people that don’t deserve it…because, like them, we didn’t deserve it, either.