1 Timothy 2:1–7

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone . . . live peaceful and quiet lives. (1 Tim. 2:1–2)

A man protested an order by local officials in Pennsylvania to take down a cross in his front yard. It’s a clear-cut issue of religious freedom, right? This guy should proudly fight the forces of evil that would prevent his Christian testimony. Wrong. The problem isn’t what is being put in his yard. The borough has an ordinance requiring permits for putting up large structures, which the owner ignored. Sometimes our outrage about spiritual issues has less to do with justice than with winning a battle for team self-righteous. Jesus never signed on as coach of that lineup.

In his first letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul told us to respect the governing authorities. If we abuse the rights of people in our community, why should they listen to our message about a gentle God? Paul began his discourse about proper fellowship within the church by instructing them on the godly approach to the larger community around them. It is extremely effective in making us become the people God wants us to be.

I thought this wasn’t a religious problem but an ego problem. It’s actually both. Our religion is about interaction with a God whose High Priest is Jesus. He reserved His harshest words for religious leaders whose lives misinformed the world about the God they claimed to serve. Be sure you don’t fall into the same trap.

Perform an act of kindness for someone who doesn’t share your views about Jesus.

Dave Knickerbocker and his family live in Ohio. He has been pastor of three churches, two as church plants.