Today’s readings.. (Nehemiah 9), Amos 1), (1 Tim 1-3)
We live in a world where those in authority are constantly being challenged. Elections are confrontations that make news headlines; reasoned discussion is at a minimum: slogans are bandied around. An earnest and committed Bible believer is increasingly dismayed by the various environments that surround them. What attitudes should such believers take, especially when some specific attitude is expected of them?
Dedicated believers were confronted by a critical problem 150 years ago in the USA by the Civil War; it was a testing time as these pioneers realized they had a higher citizenship. Paul wrote, “our citizenship is in heaven” [Philippians 3 v.20]. There is a parallel between a war of swords and a war of words, those who truly believe and fear God can engage in neither. The “soft answer” [Prov.15 v.1] is rarely practiced today. Our God and Saviour are the highest authority; we will read next week in Hebrews, that the divine authority functions by “discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart … (and) … no creature is hidden from his sight” [Hebrews 4 v.12,13].
Today’s chapters in 1 Timothy includes some valuable principles for our lives for these days.. Timothy has been left at Ephesus to help the converts there grow spiritually [1 v.3] and the advice in Paul’s letter to him highlights that our foremost allegiance is to “the king of the ages, immortal, the only God,” to whom “be honour and glory for ever and ever” [1 v.17]. This allegiance leads to a different kind of warfare! Timothy is told to “wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.” [v.18,19] In contrast those who fight in human wars hand over their conscience to their commanders.
A true believers’ relationship with human authorities is not one of rebelliously campaigning against such authority however justified that might sometimes appear. History shows that some believers have destroyed their faith and service before God by doing this. Paul tells Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and dignified in every way” [2 v.1,2]
What a challenge this was to Paul in his own life, such was the nature of the opposition he encountered, yet he was “godly and dignified” in all the confrontations that were forced upon him. It becomes increasingly evident that the true believer cannot in conscience take part, or take sides, in the confrontations between factions in elections because he (or she) serves a higher authority. For those who will, by their Master’s grace, be in a position of exercising remarkable authority in God’s coming kingdom; life now is a valuable period of training. How is your training progressing?