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  • Rev. Diane Curtis

Praying for the Powerful

1 Timothy 2:1-7

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and acceptable before God our Savior, 4 who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For

there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, 6 who gave himself a ransom for all

—this was attested at the right time. 7 For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth; I am not lying), a teacher of the gentiles in faith and truth.


Every hotel room includes a “Do Not Disturb” sign to hang on the door. The sign lets the housekeeper know not to come in the room. I heard of a hotel whose sign read “Peace and Quiet” to let others know the guest wanted to be left alone. Wouldn’t it be great if the sign worked!


Peace and quiet is what many people are looking for, and not just to keep the disruptions and disturbances at bay. People are looking for something positive. They are searching their lives for some peace and quiet. And if quiet is too much to ask, then at least some peace.


The Russian Orthodox Church introduced a word, poustinia, to describe a remote cabin or place for prayer. The idea is to create a place for a solitary spiritual retreat. A place to encounter God in silence, serenity, and peace.


Who wouldn’t want one of these poustinia for their very own? With a bath and shower, of course. With hot gourmet meals available every day, cooked by a chef and delivered to the door, of course. With the possibility of walking down daisy-strewn paths, maintained by someone else, of course. Where you can attend a personal worship service presided over by someone else, of course.


It is doubtful that you’ll find your peace and quiet poustinia in a sterile hotel room surrounded by the sounds of hundreds of other guests, elevators, electronics, street noises, and airplanes on their approach path even if you do hang the “Peace and Quiet” sign on your hotel room door. People are on a quest for somewhere and something that offers that place of retreat. Peace and quiet on demand are a dream that is harder and harder to realize in what Leonard Sweet calls a TGIF (Twitter, Google iPhone, Facebook) culture. Note: these are all wonderful ways to connect that make it possible to stay in touch, stay on top of, stay informed, and stay current 24/7. These also make it almost impossible to encounter the peace and quiet people are looking for.


Consider summer vacation plans – the necessities available where you will stay. How important is it that wi-fi is available? You might have seen the commercial with a family – mother, father, and two teenagers – who are in line to board a flight to the tropical island they will be vacationing on for the next week. The teenagers are on their phones when mom tells them to put the phones away since they won’t be using them. “Why?” the teenagers ask. They are told that there is no internet or cell service on the island. Is there anything more pitiful than watching the reaction of a teenager who discovers that they will be “off the grid” for an entire week?


Did you know that a dropped cell connection is now a direct cause of spikes in blood pressure? Not being able to make and receive calls or send and receive texts is practically a tragedy!


The most endangered of our planet’s great gifts is not the polar ice caps or the rare species of animal such as the black rhino or even the pristine aquifer or wilderness area. The most endangered gift in the 21st century is eroding quickly – the existence of peace and quiet.


The promise of peace and quiet is what is found here in 1 Timothy. Follow Jesus and you will find the way to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.”


What does peace and quiet really mean for the Christian? Although it may sound enticing, most of us can’t go off to a place of retreat, a poustinia, to spend time with God in peace and quiet. So, we need to lean how to find that peace and quiet here, where life rarely has even a few moments of peace and quiet.


The instructions for finding peace and quiet as found in chapter 2 of 1 Timothy may surprise you. We will find what we are looking for through supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for everyone, especially kings and all who are in high positions, primarily because these leaders are the ones whose actions can affect peace.


There is a shift in thinking here. We certainly pray for leaders and those in authority. We are more likely, however, to pray for those who are sick, grieving, and in trouble. And for those who are needy and poor. We may even put peace in our world higher on the list that leaders, especially those we don’t think ought to hold their positions. The type of prayer Paul writes about in 1 Timothy is different. This type of prayer is based on the understanding of who Jesus is and why he, the living God, entered into human history over 2000 years ago. This kind of prayer necessitates a deeper understanding of the gospel that we profess and proclaim.


A few scriptural examples are helpful for our understanding of what Jesus came to do:


1 Timothy 1:15: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.


1 Timothy 2:3-4: God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.


John 3:16-17: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him many not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.


These scriptures, among others, remind us that we are all in the same boat. We are all the sinners Christ came to save. We are all seekers of his peace and quiet, a peace and quiet we will never find outside ourselves no matter how many hours we spend separated from the world in retreat. The peace and quiet we truly seek is already inside us, in our very souls, put there by Christ.


In a doctor’s office you may have seen one of those charts on the wall showing the internal details of the human body. Pictured there are the muscles, ligaments, organs, veins, arteries, etc. What isn’t in the picture is a soul, the spiritual place inside us where our sense of being and understanding of self reside. It’s difficult for us or anyone else to fix a part we can’t see. You can’t inject peace and quiet into our souls like a cortisone shot, although it would make things easier if we could. So, we have to look to something, someone bigger than ourselves. One who is greater than the visible world, for whom peace and quiet is in the very nature of being – God.


1 Timothy 2:5-6 says: For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all.


The key word is the last one – “all.” This is often the word that trips us up in the search for peace and quiet. ALL means everyone, no exceptions. Men, women, and children. Blue collar, white collar, unemployed, underemployed, and retired. Every nationality and ethnic group. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all other political parties. All faith groups. No one is left out. When God says all, God means all.


ALL can be a very tough word for us to deal with. Our brain and heart make distinctions even when we don’t think we are doing so, even when we don’t want to do so. One way or another we organize people into categories – it’s human nature. When we do, we loss the understanding of what God means by ALL.


When God says all, God means ALL. All people everywhere regardless of their characteristics, character, and behavior. God desires everyone to be saved, which is why, in 1 Timothy, we are told to pray fore everyone, even those that are hard to pray for. Even those we don’t particularly like. Even those who have made fun of you, hurt you, or persecuted you. Even leaders you don’t think should hold their positions of leadership. There are no exceptions. Everyone fits under the umbrella of ALL.


Peace and quiet stems from belief in God. Moreso belief in the power, grace, and love shown in Jesus Christ, God in our world. From this belief comes complete acceptance that each person is a child of God, a member of God’s family simply by virtue of being one of the ALL.


The more we embrace God’s view of the world and of people, the more the internal chatter and judgements are quieted. As peace and quiet take up more of our souls, these qualities increasingly impact our interactions and relationships with those outside ourselves. Then we begin to discover increasingly that the peace and quiet we seek live inside of us not outside.


Become one of the ALL rather than choosing us or them, me, or you. When we do, we come closer to hanging that “Peace and Quiet” sign on ourselves.


Amen.

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