Pastor’s Devotions #115

“Three Men Standing Together”

“I want men (people) everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.”                    1 Timothy 2:8

It was an interesting site, three men standing together. During President Biden’s Inauguration Day, at Arlington Cemetery, before the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, three former Commander-in Chief, stood side by side. Politically speaking, they would be categorized as fierce rivals. Personally, they have discovered fellowship, and found friendship. Shoulder to shoulder, they stood united in hope for a stronger, united America. Former Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, can we learn something from their example? Certainly George H.W. Bush, if he were still alive, and Jimmy Carter, if he were still able, would have joined these three.

Why is it that these men of this mighty nation have laid down their swords?  Yet, while they have turned their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, those standing on the sidelines, and watching from the cheap seats, still hold grudge and wrestle over past impeachments, WMD’s, and Obamacare? There could be plenty of pointing fingers and placing blame – but these men have found a new way and left accusations behind. Yes, clearly, they hold different views regarding taxation and immigration, but now they view America from a different perspective. They view themselves from a different perspective. They have been lifted to a new plane. How can fierce rivals become future friends?

These past two weekends, I saw three other men standing together. Not at the same time, not on the same field, but standing together. They have been fierce competitors, they still are. But once they walk off the gridiron of the professional football field, as commanders and quarterbacks of their respective teams, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are respected friends. Who knows, they might have even exchanged jerseys with one another. Tom was even caught throwing passes to Drew’s son after the game. They address each other with first names rather than football foes. All three have come to recognize a reality beyond football glory. But for fans sitting in the bleachers, the visceral hatred can be palpable toward opposing teams or players and even poured out (beer and soda) on opposing fans.  

These two pictures of these three men made me think of three men in the Bible that had their differences yet found an enduring friendship. At times they clearly opposed each other, yet were able to fix their eyes upon a greater purpose.

Peter, Paul and Barnabus stood together in their proclamation of the Gospel. But there were times in their ministry when they fiercely opposed each other.

Paul writes in Galatians 2:11, that when Peter came to Antioch, he opposed Peter to his face, because according to Paul, Peter was clearly in the wrong. Paul describes Peter having fellowship with Gentiles until men from James arrived. When Peter felt the peer pressure from the “circumcision” group, he then drew back and separated himself from the Gentiles. Paul declared that because of Jewish customs Peter was undermining the Gospel and even Barnabas was led astray by his example.

Tensions also arose between Paul and Barnabas as they discussed a second missionary journey. Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark, his relative, along with them, but Paul would have nothing of it. Acts 15:38-39 describes the disagreement. Paul didn’t want to bring John Mark because, according to him, John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. So, Barnabas took John Mark and Paul chose Silas and they went their separate ways.

As time went on, a new relationship formed between Paul and John Mark. Paul states in 2 Timothy 4:11, “Only Luke is with me. Get (John) Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” Something happened between those two in which they found a new friendship and worked together for the sake of the Gospel. This reconciliation would have certainly endeared Barnabus toward Paul as well.

And while Peter was sent to bring the Gospel to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles, they remained united in their proclamation. You can hear the affection and respect in Peter’s words as he describes Paul in 2 Peter 4:15. He states, “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.”  While disagreement arose, fellowship, friendship and respect won the day as these two leaders led the charge of proclaiming God’s Kingdom.

Peter, Paul and Barnabus lived in turbulent times. They faced opposition, disagreements and misunderstandings. They made mistakes. Yet through their ministry, they remained united in declaring salvation through Jesus Christ.

Listen to the words, Paul writes to another fellow minister and mentee as they stood together for the sake of the Gospel

To Timothy, Paul writes,

“I urge, then, first of all, that request, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings (President Biden) and all those in authority, (Congress, state, and local government) that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men (and women) to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose, I was appointed a herald and an apostle – I am telling the truth, I am not lying – and a teacher of the truth faith to the Gentiles. I want men (and women) everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.”

May we look and live beyond rivalries. May we stand together, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, being lifted upon a new plane, in unity and in our love for Jesus Christ!

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark

 


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