"I urge, them, 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." (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
This was the point verse used in a message I heard at church this weekend. The fact that I was there to hear it in the first place is great reason for thanks. Greater thanks is given because it was a message delivered by a youth pastor to my son, and his peers, the generation that will be tasked with fortifying the moral foundation of this nation.
As followers of a conservative faith, they are under attack. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They are the offspring of a generation that was brought up to believe that the freedom of religion, amongst other freedoms, was an inalienable right promised not only by our forefathers, but purchased with the blood of countless fighters for that freedom.Unfortunately, like the premise that the accused are innocent until proven guilty, that belief just isn't true in the reality of the world we live in. Because just as soon as those children step out of their home, and onto the property of our public schools, they are under precise attack to undermine any belief in God, or His ability to interact in our lives.
Not only has the Christian faith been extricated from our school system curriculum entirely, but a sustained counterattack against it's very existence is launched from the day a child enters the system. For not only has any semblance of the bibles teachings been removed, it's anti-thesis, evolution and atheism, are pounded into their young minds at every opportunity. The moral boundaries that offered stability in our lives a generation ago are rendered soft, and in-effective by 'metro-sexual concepts', big bang theories, and relativity. University students who lived a life of conservatism for the first eighteen years or so, are suddenly subject to concerted, vile attacks on the belief system they were taught to cherish.They are taught that everything should be luke warm. Racial, sexual, and spiritual integrity are disdained. Everybody looks the same, male or female. Everybody thinks the same, educated or not. Everybody makes the same wage, whether they work or not. And lastly, that everybody believes the same, that we are nothing more than random happenstance, destined to live a mediocre life of sameness with everybody else, and to die and be forgotten forever.
But here's the rub, the irony of it all. Christians are called to pray for "everybody"! Remember, "prayers ...be made for all people." In particular "kings and all those in authority". And why? So "that we may all live peaceful and quiet lives."
The charge here is to pray for those who have authority over us so that, hopefully, they make sound decisions about the rules we are obligated to live by. That the laws that govern us are made with equality for all in mind. That the safeties that are imposed on us don't restrict us to the point of being counterproductive, and causing us harm.
I just can't grasp the logic of a world view that counters the effectiveness of a concept, that if left alone, would only strengthen everybody involved, whether they believe in God or not. Because the reality of it all is, if the true believing Christian where left alone to practice their belief that if they pray for those they love, for those they believe to be lost, and for those that have 'authority' over them, they have the right to exist peacefully with everyone. Content to live out their lives, along side of those that believe, or disbelieve, without prejudice or rancor. They would therefore be more prosperous, because the more effective in application of skills, the more effective in their personal, and professional lives through less time and energy spent fighting for their rights, the more benefit they are to everyone in general.
That isn't to say that Christians are perfect. Far from it. But by, and large, while all have come from the position of a fallen nature, most are striving for some semblance of the perfection they ultimately hope to achieve. Because of this, they know they exist in a 'state of grace', where to forgive, and live peaceably, is a divine attribute.
So why is it that those who don't believe in an all knowing, all caring, benevolent and peaceful God, are so bent on restricting the teaching, and belief structure, of those that do?
How is their way of life threatened by such a passive view?
Well, here's a thought.
One of the reasons I was so thankful for being able to attend church this last weekend was because, over the last year, those opportunities have been few, and far between. A challenging year, career wise, had left me wanting in the free time area. A recent promotion, however, lead to weekends off, and a Monday through Friday routine with some normal working hours, rather than the spastic, late shift routine I haven't enjoyed for the last year.
Through cause and effect, another thankful benefit was this last Saturday off. One I spent cruising the North Carolina foothills on my motorcycle. Where I passed a small country church that boasted a sign out front that read, "A questionable attitude equals a questionable motive."
Better said, "a bad attitude just about guarantees a bad motive."
So if my faith says that all I want to do is love on someone, even if they don't love on me back, why do they feel so threatened, if they in fact possess a peaceful intent?
That string of scriptures I quoted earlier goes on to say..."This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
Maybe it's a 'knowledge of the truth' they want so vehemently to keep us from. Remember from your history, it wasn't until the invention of the printing press, and mass publication of the bible, that man realized that all men were created equal. Take that truth away from us, and we're back to a two class system. The 'haves...and the have not's'.
Given that, here's another ironic rub for you...
As Christians we know what true freedom really is. So, while we can certainly be taxed to poverty, restricted under law to ineffectiveness, and forced to endure the effects of a bad attitude, with bad motive, on our lives, we can't be forced to give up on our God who says "The Truth will always set you free". Because ultimately we know that while we might have to endure sorrows for a time, eventually we win.
Here's the last irony I'll throw at the disbeliever who tries to force his will on me. It is this faith that ultimately the Son will shine that gives me the confidence to be able to "turn the other cheek" to the open handed slap of contempt a disbelieving world view has for my faith. And yet, close that hand into a fist, or wrap it around a weapon, meant to do me or mine harm, and you'll see the side of that same confidence that has kept the Christian faith alive and well for over two thousand years.
For kings and peace we pray. For God, Family and Country we fight.
I am proud to witness some of our young battling, against almost overwhelming odds, to do the same. Of that number girding up, my youngest son. You Rock!
"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,.... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". (Joshua 24:15)