A sermon preached at Moore College Men’s Chapel on 4 August, 2021.
Tensions are very high in our community at the moment. Take the illegal anti-lockdown protest on 23 July 2021 in Sydney. The protesters were expressing a fear and anger that’s clearly present amongst many. They were wrong to express it in this way. But you can feel it, can’t you? I know right now many of us are feeling the frustration. Some of us are in almost impossible situations: climbing the walls! And it’s hard.
The catch-cry of the protest was freedom: freedom of movement, of work, of association. And while the protest itself was way out of line, freedom does matter, doesn’t it? It matters for us and our community.
Religious freedom, for example, is a precious good that should be protected, both for the good of society, and for the sake of people hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is an argument that if Christians give in to these Covid restrictions, it’s the start of a slippery slope. The argument goes: If you submit to the government in these areas, if you give up the freedom to leave you home, to travel, indeed, as we’ve given up the freedom to gather in church, well: Where does it end? Won’t the government get used to the controlling us, and end up controlling for example, what we’re allowed to preach or even say in private? That’s not an empty threat. Governments have shown that they want to stop Christians speaking, haven’t they? Even laws introduced in the state of Victoria recently have done just that. So there is a real and deep-seated fear amongst many about this slippery slope.
You may not agree with this slippery slope argument. I don’t agree with it. But why? How are Christians supposed to respond to the authorities? What should our attitude be? And what does this have to do with God?
The Bible speaks to these questions. In this sermon, I’m preaching on 1 Timothy 2:1–7. I didn’t choose it because of the protest–it was simply the next passage in my series on 1 Timothy. But it’s a good word for us in the situation we’re in, because it’s a passage about how we as believers in Christ are to live as human beings, and how we are relate to the human beings around us, including and especially the human authorities around us.
It doesn’t tell us exactly what to do in any situation. But it tells us what attitudes we are to have. The reasons here aren’t just convenience or pragmatism. The have to do with the nature of God, and the nature of Christ, and the nature of Jesus’ death on the cross.
The key instruction in verse 1 is: prayer. Prayer is the biggest application. But the passage doesn’t just give us a bare command to pray. It tells us something profound about why we pray, and the God we are praying to, and God’s heart for all humanity.
“All human beings”. In the passage, this idea of all humanity keeps coming up again and again (vv. 1, 4, 5–6, 7). It’s about your humanity: being human, and being human along with all other human beings. Not just some, but all. This passage teaches us a theology of God and humanity. So this passage teaches us to live as humans among humans and human authorities, by helping us to see God’s heart for all humanity. As we pray for all humanity.
There are four points from the passage:
- God rules over all humans
- God wills for all humans to be saved
- There is one human mediator for all humans
- The gospel mission is for all humans
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