“Freedom from persecution does not guarantee a life of holiness.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 18, 2021
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 1 Timothy 2:1-2, NKJV
For many of us, we struggle to see the virtue of a quiet life. On the surface, it seems boring, leading to a life of insignificance and irrelevance, which in our digital age is one of our society’s greatest fears. To be quiet is to be forgotten, and to be forgotten is to be unloved, or so we think.
St. Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2 alert us to several dimensions of a quiet and peaceful life. On the one hand, we are told to pray “for kings and all who are in authority.” Here Paul was not casting a vision for a Christian government in which the ideals of the faith would be shared by the rulers and established across the land. It would take centuries for this reality to play out. No, for these early Christians, their prayer was for an end of persecution, that the government would allow them to exist free from hostilities and violence as a result of their Christian faith. Kings and authorities had, and have, a very real role in creating the space needed to “lead a quiet and peaceable life” (1 Timothy 2:2).
On the other hand, a government can give all the space anyone could ever hope for, yet individual people and communities of faith can still fail to live “in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:2). Freedom from persecution does not guarantee a life of holiness. As such, one can be given a “quiet life” on the surface, free from hostility or threats of violence, yet still be overcome by chaos and noise deep within.
In the Western world, on the whole Christians live in some of the most tolerant conditions for faith that the church has ever seen. Of course there are troubling exceptions and trends to be wary of, yet a long view of history makes it plain and clear: those who want to live a godly life are rarely stopped or persecuted for doing so. The opposition, it seems, is therefore personal and to be found within our own unsettled souls. As Paul says elsewhere, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:21).
It is possible to have perfect external conditions for faith and yet be overcome by temptation and despondency. Though we long for holiness and the life of God, the reality of sin and evil is ever-present, tempting us to find our purpose and pleasure in things other than the Lord and his love for us. And so, as we seek to live a quiet life, we pray for public authorities with sincerity and intentionality, yet we also choose to look at the chaos within, asking the Lord to set us free from the lies that hold us captive and steal our peace.
Father, give us the gift of true and lasting peace, and a quiet soul that finds its identity and hope in you alone, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
What battle most consistently rages within you, threatening to steal your joy and peace?
Andrew Peterson: The Rain Keeps Falling
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