Have you noticed the contradiction among people who wear uniforms?
The word “uniform” means “the same.” The idea is to build a “team” identity, without undue focus on the individual. However, those who wear uniforms have plenty of opportunity to call attention to themselves. The military, police, and even youth organizations have badges of rank, insignia for years of service, and medals for outstanding performance. Those with more brass and braid tend to stand out from the rest and receive more honor.
Lest the civilians feel left out, there’s plenty of pressure to stand out with the physical trappings of designer labels and the latest grooming styles. In some circles, the pricier the business suit, the more perceived status and power. (Before some people protest, we know stories of fashion snobbery among jeans-wearing saints, too!)
But Scripture suggests a different set of priorities.
While the latter part of I Timothy 2 causes some debate over a term or two, the passage contains other terms that should be viewed as positive attributes -- worthy goals for everyone: modesty, self-control, good works, to name only a few. (Go ahead – read the passage again and see how many you can list.)
These characteristics are not always recognized and rewarded in the current culture, but they are noticed. They are noticed by those who need a kind word or a helping hand. And they are noticed by Someone who is ultimately more influential than any Paris-based clothing designer.
Following the example (yet again)
What might we learn from the example of Jesus, who lived an earthly life without all the “brass and braid” befitting His holy status? From His humble birth to His daily walk among the common people, Jesus “wore” a wardrobe of service and compassion.
How’s that for a fashion statement?
1. What temporary “earthly” trappings are you tempted to “clothe” yourself with?
2. What spiritual attribute do you think God wants you to replace that with?
3. How will you achieve this?
“God said it. I believe it, and that’s good enough for me.”
Fair enough, but how often do we stop to consider why God gave some of His commands? Does God simply enjoy bossing us around? In many cases (spoiler alert!), it’s because obeying those commands can lead to good things – for us and others.
What’s the end result?
No, living out the Gospel message does not necessarily lead to fame and fortune in the earthly sense. Because of the sinful world culture – and sometimes because of our own fumbles and stumbles – a Godly lifestyle is not always comfortable.
Yet, living out biblical principles such as those in I Timothy is not only glorifying to God, it’s beneficial for us -- not only for eternity, but for the “right now,” too.
We’ve already considered the “peaceful and quiet life” mentioned in I Timothy 2 (and that can happen despite real and certain challenges). Further, while some grapple with God’s design for authority in the family and the church, consider that people will benefit from “holy hands” doing “good works.” Persevering parents can have the joy of raising physically and spiritually healthy children (who, God willing, will repeat the process, blessing many others along the way).
It’s not always easy to sort out the messes of life, family, and church, but with God’s help, it’s worth it!
1. What benefits do you see in obeying God’s guidance in His Word?
2. What needs to be adjusted in your daily lifestyle that will glorify God and serve others?
3. How will you pray (and act) to make these adjustments happen?
A quick reminder: if a particular biblical verse or passage is difficult to understand, be sure to read the context (the verses, and even chapters) surrounding the difficult passage.
When thinking about the “submissiveness” issue (I Timothy 2:11), we suggested yesterday that Jesus was a great example of “submitting” to others’ authority, especially that of God the Father. We might also remember that passages like Philippians 2 tell us that Jesus voluntarily gave up the independent exercise of His divine attributes and “made himself a servant.”
How did Jesus “serve”?
As a child, Jesus submitted to His earthly parents’ authority. As an adult, He worked as a carpenter, submitting to the wishes of His clients (not all of whom, likely, were friendly, reasonable, and honest). In His formal earthly ministry, he spent time with “real people,” taking time to talk, weep, and care for people’s needs. He even washed the disciples’ feet!
All of this happened without any of the “royal” trappings one might expect to be given to a “King.” The only crown he wore was made of long, painful thorns, and that was only a piece of the torture to which He submitted Himself.
Following the example (again)
There are some things that Jesus did that we could never do (as we are not God). On the other hand, it might be fair to say that He doesn’t ask us to do anything He (as a human being) was not willing to do.
The word, “Christian” has been interpreted to mean “Christ-like” or “little Christ.” How are we doing in truly imitating Him?
1. What aspect of Jesus’ “serving” impresses you the most?
2. What aspect of Jesus’ “serving” is the hardest for you to imitate?
2. Despite the answer to #2 above, how is God calling you to “serve”?
Maybe it’s because of our American tradition of “freedom” and “liberty.” Maybe it’s because we are urged to be “independent” and to celebrate “individualism.” Maybe it’s because we said, “You’re not the boss of me!” too often when we were kids.
Regardless, it’s easy to bristle when someone talks of “submitting.” And relax, ladies; men have the same problem (and the same challenge). Regardless of the relationship (family, employment, government), a lot of us simply do not want to be told what to do.
Words mean things
Paul didn’t shy away from using the term “submissiveness” in I Timothy 2:11. While some will try to soften the definition, the word “submit” means to “yield” or “defer.” It means we don’t necessarily get our way. To borrow the words of Jesus, “not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42).
And it’s good to start there: with Jesus. His earthly life and ministry were filled with examples of how he submitted to His Father’s will. We might paraphrase I Timothy 2:6 to say, “…who submitted himself as a ransom for all.”
Following the example
So, the biblical charge of “submissiveness” is not given in a vacuum. Anyone still have one of those WWJD (“What Would Jesus Do?”) bracelets? Maybe it would be better to ask “What did Jesus do?”
Over the next few days, we will consider that question. In the meantime, you can get a head start now:
1. How did Jesus “submit” to others’ authority?
2. What did His “submission” lead to in the end?
2. How can His example inspire us to do likewise?
This month marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The idea of the Reformation was to reform the holy Catholic Church. Massive amounts of corruption and the discovery of
When we read 1 Timothy 2:1-7, and we read Romans 12:16-13:7, a clear picture emerges as to how we can love our neighbors as ourselves. A key aspect to living a dynamic Christian life is to live at peace and to be a peacemaker. The aim of living a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness is a key. In all points of history, it is radical.
The role of government is to acknowledge good and to punish evil. Rather than rioting, demonstrating, protesting, etc., the Holy Spirit gives us another and a better way to deal with things: Overcome evil with good. This sentiment was given at a time when Christianity was under persecution. Things get more tense when government suddenly stop fulfilling its God ordained role. Still, the thrust of living a peaceful life is critical.
This leads to a key concept we need to repent of: If we are constantly stressed out, there is something significantly wrong with our Spiritual walk. Christians should be the most calm and centered people in the room, bearing the wisdom from eternity, and sure of a bright future. In North America we get rattled all too easily. We need to learn to relax and live at peace.
Make a difference, be holy
Making a difference and being holy are commands, but those commands are carried out in living life well. Urgency is tempered by sovereignty, holiness tempered by grace, perfection tempered by forgiveness. The Gospel is THE solution, but we too often forget it. It permeates everything as The Trinity makes all things new. Our prayer life and our choices reflect our view of the Gospel. Are we seeking to live a quiet and peaceable life? Are we living the better way?
Blessed is the mana
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2but his delight is in the lawb of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
The Psalmist opens up this book with a principle that is, in my opinion, the most effective tool in our development in walk with Christ. In the second verse the author says that the man who “meditates” day and night on the Word of God is blessed. While the verse is clear already in the English, the Hebrew word for meditates that the author uses gives us a more vivid picture to his desired intent. The word shows this image of a person chewing on food, and breaking down the food before swallowing. We are not only to read His Word, but we are meant to let the Word of God dwell in our minds daily, and memorize God’s precious Word. His Word is to be food for our souls and we are to delight in it. As a person would chew and eat after fasting for a couple of days, is how God’s people should “chew” and meditate on His Word. We must hunger and thirst for His Word and week after His precious truths.
Read 1 Timothy 2:1-7
Most conservative numbers suggest there is approximately 1.8 billion Christians in the world, that seems like a lot of people, right? Well that leaves around 6 billion people on the planet who are under God’s judgment. It’s been my experience that American Christians have focused on the part of the Gospel that involves spending eternity with God once we leave this world. Being saved from God’s wrath is something we should be joyful and excited about, and we should celebrate whenever somebody accepts Jesus as their Savior. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that he anguished so much for the lost (which in context was the Jewish people) that He would give up his salvation and spot in Heaven that His people would be saved. Now, I do not know where you are in your walk with Jesus, but I can speak for myself that I am not at that maturity in my relationship with Jesus that I would go to Heaven for anybody. (I'm just being honest). We should all take time today to ask God to stir up anguish in our souls that causes us to want to reach the lost at any costs.
Psalm 46 gives us instruction that sometimes we just need to stop. Rest is a part of growth. When we get too busy we can forget or not appreciate all that is going on. Take time to review your week.
Read 1 Timothy 1:12-20 and we see Paul being authentic with Timothy and the church of Ephesus. Authenticity is more a fad word than a reality in todays culture. This is from a journal long ago as we think about the authenticity Paul demonstrates:
I think we over-programmed ourselves. People often do not know how to ‘just be.’ We fight it. Busyness is the vaccine against relational intimacy. We are very busy people, creating very shallow relationships. I wonder if the Simple. Community. Authentic. trend is a discovery of something lost, not something new?
In simple we over program. There are many Christians that are so busy doing good things that their faith is extremely shallow. In zealousness we forget that life is more than just activity. Some churches program their way out of the missions context God placed them in. We are the analogy of a chick-flic where the girl gets the guy and then...role the credits. (Ever wonder what happens next?)
Willow Creek discovered this. They were doing many incredible things, but they were not making disciples as they should. The leadership realized they needed a radical re-working of how they do things to focus on producing disciples. The book Simple Church deals with the same issue among many (most?) churches.
We need commonality for community to exist. The phrase “online community” is used all the time. Let us be honest with each other: we lost what community really means. Social media strikes a chord because as humans we really do crave community. Community is diverse. I disagree with the sentiment that states people are into social media because they want fame. Honestly, that is too complex. People want identity.
If churches traded simplicity for programs, it traded community for commercialism & commodity. The danger of being over programmed is we start treating issues and people as a commodity, as customers and not as they are: People in the image of God. God is infinite, which means if the church is to glorify God (show or demonstrate accurately who He is) it takes diversity. Relationships are organic not synthetic. Ministry is farm work, not lab work; a muddy or dusty field not an assembly line.
We know we have opinions and we know we are not perfect. I find it hilarious how academic writing requires 3rd person (as if that magically more objective) or how we can make things a production instead of just being together and worshiping. A business workshop aptly stated: If you say you’re authentic, you better be, because everyone says it. I often heard from people that: if you have to state something, you’re likely not. If something is true, it will show itself true. Here is the key question: Why do we feel we need to say we are authentic?
My English prof described a hard conversation with her parents. She wanted to know if her parents were saved. Her mom was upset. “Couldn’t you tell by how I lived?” There are eras where how we lived that was the true judge, not what we said. "We need both," Mrs. Williams stated. “I feel as though we lost the art of our living communicating what we believe.”
The Bottom Line:
Simple. Community. Authentic. Maybe we should take off the mask and call them for what they are: three areas where we need to repent. I hope we pursue them less as fad and more as a call to get back to what God wants us to be. I can’t help but notice what is core to each of these three things: People. Love God...Love People...Simple. Community. Authentic.