A Ransom for ALLFr. Barnabas Powell
Why all the drama? OK, I have to confess, I am no fan of drama for drama’s sake, and I’m in the house with two daughters who excel in drama! “She touched me” “She’s looking at me” WHAT? She’s “looking at you? Really? I guess I didn’t get the “drama” gene, because nothing sets me off quicker than high decibel whining and drama! Can’t stand it!
Whew, glad I got that off my chest. But seriously, it’s really hard work to be “at peace” with everyone, to wish everyone well, and to truly desire what’s best for everyone. We live in such a “me” centered society that seems to always reinforce the notion that I have to look out for #1. I have to “protect myself” and guard myself against others who society tells me are always trying to “take advantage of me.” I guess it really isn’t paranoia if they really ARE out to get you. So, what’s the path to everyday peace?
Look at our lesson today in 1 Timothy 2:1-7:
TIMOTHY, my son, first of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
St. Paul is writing to St. Timothy as Timothy pastors his first parish and he’s going to have to navigate the interpersonal relationships in a parish, a city, and a country. It’s no easy thing to traverse these pit filled paths of interpersonal relationships. You have to pay attention!
So, St. Paul gives young Timothy three spiritual labors that create peace in your heart.
First, pray and celebrate God’s will. Notice the list of people Timothy was called to pray for: All men; Kings and all who are in “high” positions; so that the believers can live a “quiet, peaceable, godly, and respectful life. If I am going to have peace, I can’t be self-focused. I have to turn my focus outward to others, to those who have authority over the society where I live. I have to pray for them, intercede for them, and offer thanksgivings for them. And my prayers, my spiritual labor focused outward will create the space for personal peace!
Second, understand God’s desire. You see, if I am going to have peace in my life (by the way, “peace” here doesn’t mean the absence of conflict as much as the resting trust that God is in control) I am going to have to expand my understanding of God’s purpose in the people around me. God desires that “all men” be saved and learn the truth. That’s what God wants, and, unless I learn how to want the same thing, then my desires and God’s desires are going to be in conflict. When that happens you can kiss peace goodbye in your life. God desires all people to know Him and my life is going to be at peace when I settle that truth in my heart. Constantly looking for retribution or “payback” will never create peace in my life.
Finally, embrace God’s wisdom. My peace is always enhanced when I take the time to learn my faith. When I learn the extent God has been willing to go to accomplish His will and to achieve His desire, I will see just how much God loves me, and, even my enemies! God’s love for all of humanity is displayed when “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). His wisdom says the price He paid to destroy the enemies of humanity (sin, death, and Satan) is worth it! Which means you are worth the price Jesus paid to set you free! When that reality is constantly before my eyes and in my heart, I can rest knowing that no matter what life throws at me, it can never be greater than God’s love for me!
Today, are you a peaceful person? Do you know how to allow God to create a space for peace in your life? There is so much wisdom in this Orthodox Faith just waiting for you to embrace it, unpack it, and apply it to your everyday life. When you are Orthodox on Purpose, you are at peace!
P.S. Today is the last day for early registration at the National Evangelism Conference “Bringing Orthodoxy to America” Oct. 3-5 in Portland, OR. Just go to www.come-sf.org and be a part of this wonderful opportunity!