Lectionary Text for week of September 30th

NLT 1 Timothy 2:1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God’s mercy upon them, and give thanks. 2 Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 for he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message that God gave to the world at the proper time. 7 And I have been chosen — this is the absolute truth — as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles about faith and truth.
God wants freedom for each person.  God wants each person to be saved and to understand the truth.  This is the message that we must reclaim.  Sure He does not oppose feeling good about yourself, having sufficient income to live comfortably, and live in harmony with your family, friends and neighbors, but God’s main goal for his Kingdom coming near this world is for salvation.
Many times the church gets blamed for being judgmental and condescending because we have the audacity to talk about absolute truth and absolute consequences for our actions.  Instead of seeing an opportunity to find healing and meaning to life, the church is seen as an oppressor and an outdated institution.  Ministers are not seen in a positive light as once was the case particulary in urban and suburban settings.
What a great opportunity exists for the church to reclaim the mantle of teaching truth and faith.  It will not be given to us, but it can be reclaimed through God’s grace working in our teaching, serving, worship and love.  I personally get excited about the church seemingly being moved out of the mainstream.  We were, in my opinion, never meant to be there in the first place.  We are a countercultural bunch that works better in contrast rather than in lock-step to the world.