Pray for All Men
September 21, 2013
1 Timothy 2: 1-8
Greetings in the name of our Mediator, Jesus the Christ who reconciled God and humanity through His being lifted up in glory for all to see.
“ I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”
Those are powerful words that Paul has written and my question for you is, as a community of believers in this church and in a personal sense, are you ready to hear them?
What is this church about? Is it ready to hear these words and do what God says through Paul? Are you?
Are we an introspective church scared and concerned for the future and feeling sorry for itself? Do you?
Do we see only the shortcomings and the sins of fellow members? Is that what you see?
Is this church full of anger, strife, and quarreling and is it just under the surface ready to boil over and fueled by gossip and slander and false witness? Are you?
Do we only see the condition of the facility, the peeling paint or the stained carpet or all of our little friends in the kitchen? Is God’s Word less effective here because the floors are not waxed every week?
An introspective church, that is to say a church that only looks internally assumes a cowardly, fatalistic and anemic and defensive stand rather than an offensive stand to the world. That church doesn’t evangelize, it doesn’t witness, it doesn’t share the most incredible and perfect gift of the Gospel. It becomes a country club with an exclusive membership rather than an inclusive one.
Now I don’t want you to think I am just picking on Our Savior. These symptoms and problems can effect all churches no matter the size and how big or little of a budget they have. You see when a church starts focusing and looking only inward and focusing on its own problems rather than focusing and looking at God, it gets caught like a fly in molasses.
A church that looks at God is a church that believes in God’s plan formed before the foundation of the world of salvation for all people. It sees it in the cross of Jesus Christ who was, like that bronze serpent lifted up on the pole for all to seek healing, lifted up and glorified on the cross. He was lifted up and glorified so that all would be drawn to Him.
Paul says in verse 5,
”For there is only one God and one mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Jesus Christ. He gave His life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave the world at just the right time.”
A church that looks at God rejoices in hearing this because this is what we are about! The church rejoices in the Mediator, Jesus Christ sent by the Father at just the right time to reconcile and save all. Seeing and knowing that, the church worships the God of Abraham and Isaac, the God of Creation, the God of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Now I guess before we go any further we have to figure out what the church is. What is the church? Is it just these four walls that surround us that we inhabit a couple of hours a week?
This is where we meet to worship and this is where God calls us to worship as we begin that worship in the name of the Triune God and this is where He serves us in Word and Sacrament. But ultimately the church is the priesthood of all believers. It is the community or church that God has gathered as He calls His people to Him in baptism through His Son. That community like any community it is made up of people and who are those people in that community or church?
You are the church, I am the church, we are the church! The church is made up of you and I and all others who profess and confess the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and Master and Mediator.
So If the church is made up of you and I, that brings it to a personal level doesn’t it? It brings our lives into play and what they are about and Paul urging us to pray for all people. Not just your family and friends or the brothers and sisters who are part of the church but all people. Friends, enemies, strangers, Paul says, “Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.”
This is a hard teaching isn’t it? Who here wants to pray for an enemy or maybe even a president and congress that they didn’t vote for. What about leaders who subjugate and mistreat their own people? Or maybe closer to home, what about a fellow believer that you have a problem with in the congregational community or members who are not here this morning for whatever reason or excuse?
What about all those people who as we are in worship right now don’t know what that is because they don’t have an intimate relationship with God meaning they don’t believe?
You see the church that looks outward instead of inward sees the world and feels sorry for it, not for itself. It sees people suffering and hurting and disenfranchised because they don’t see or know Christ.
Look around and you can see the brokenness and the guilt and shame that this world offers and does to people. Just drive down the street. You see people substituting and trying to compensate for something that is missing. They are trying to justify themselves and fill in the holes with all sorts of idols and quite often we try to do the same thing. They are searching and floundering and this hurts and saddens God.
God has no desire to see anyone enter into eternal damnation. It breaks His heart to see that. He wants everyone to know the truth and it will set men free-that truth is Christ Jesus who through His dying on the cross justifies us to God and mediates sinners before God. We are free and made righteous in the blood of the Lamb.
The church must never forget this and it must answer this call to arms. The church must answer the call of Christ found in the Great Commission in Matthew 28 to go and make disciples of all nations.
The priesthood of all believers must pray for all people that they would hear the call and believe and see and know the grace, mercy and peace given freely because of the love that our Father has for His children.
We as the church can pray for all people, we can go on the offensive and now look out not because we are so smart and better than others but because the grace of God has been given to us. We have been equipped and are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do just this, to share the Gospel.
The church that looks to God and depends on and has faith is mission minded and knows that it can relay and witness the message that God gave to the world at the right time. We can show and tell about the relationship that God has reconciled with us as we depend on Him, living in faith and trust that God is with us faithfully.
The church that is focused on God is fully dependent upon Him and His mercies and testifies through prayer and the Word that the sinful human race, His very creation from the greatest to the least and in every corner of existence where there is human life desperately needs the Triune God whom we adore and praise.
Through Jesus we can be bold and not worry about making mistakes and messing up because we will, oh trust me, we will! We along the way are going to sin and we are going to err but the truth is that God forgives sin, all sin. What man does for evil or bad, God will use for good. Remember the bumper sticker.’ Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven?’
We can be bold because our faith and trust are in Jesus Christ who serves His children by taking our sin and becoming sin for us.
Through Christ, we are that church, His church, His bride.
We might be small in numbers here at Our Savior right now but that doesn’t diminish us because we are large in the blessings that are bestowed on us from the manger to the empty tomb.
We look to the cross and see Christ lifted up in glory and we know that the cross leads us to the resurrection. We can only through Him, as Paul writes in verse 8, “Pray with Holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.”
Through the forgiveness of sins and the redemption bought and paid for by the Christ, God has called you and I to be no less than representatives to a fallen and corrupt world, sharing the ongoing good news of the Gospel and praying for all, asking and depending in His grace and love and knowing it pleases God our Savior.
You are the church, we are the church through Christ!