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February 17, 2016

God’s Strategy to Change the World

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. 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 good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. 1 Timothy 2:1-6 (NLT)

God’s strategy for the church to reach a lost and hurting world begins with prayer.  Before we talk to people about God, God says we are to talk to Him about people, all people.  Notice the priority in this passage.  It’s a simple strategy for bringing good news to a bad news world.  He says, I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people.  Then, he tells us what to pray.  Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.   People may not be open to a discussion about God, but prayer will unleash the Spirit of God to soften and prepare their hearts.  It will also prepare our hearts and attitudes to share with genuine concern and compassion.

Then, Paul instructs Timothy to have the church pray for all those who are in authority.  This was remarkable, considering that he was living at a time of extreme persecution under the notoriously cruel emperor, Nero! The command to pray for leaders didn’t depend on whether they were good or evil.  The point was so that Christ followers could live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.  Praying for others and for our leaders is good and pleases God.  How much of a priority is prayer in your life?  When was the last time you prayed for political leaders?  It’s so much easier to find fault than to pray.

The second part of God’s strategy to change the world comes next.  It’s really the reason for our prayers.  Paul tells Timothy, God wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.  He’s giving Timothy the scope of salvation – everyone!  Christ died for us all!  Does that mean everyone will be saved?  While God’s invitation extends equally to all people, not all people will receive His salvation.  Not only does Paul give us the scope of God’s salvation but also the source.  For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus.  He gave His life to purchase freedom for everyone.  This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.  And it’s the only message that will change the world!  In what ways can you partner with your church to communicate that message of hope and healing?