Power tempts people to be greedy as few things can. Regardless of how much power we have, it is never enough. We always "need" more. The American Christian often falls victim to this deception: power can solve any "church problem." The deception: if a congregation has the "right person" in the "right position" at the "right time" with the "right power," any wrong can be righted, any error can be corrected, any activity can be controlled, and any waywardness can be redirected. Power can do anything.
Two forces that rarely mix are power and humility. Two forces that rarely see through the same godly eyes are power and compassion. Two forces that rarely are compatible are power and servitude. Two forces that easily become enemies are power and Christ-like attitudes. Power rarely helps the weak. Power rarely rescues the fallen. Power hungers for control.
Servants did not make good kings. Why? When a servant became king, serving was "beneath him." Arrogantly, he looked down on those who continued to serve. Servants existed for "his" benefit. He did not exist for "their" benefit.
Christians do not make good authoritarians. Why? When a Christian becomes an authoritarian he or she sees his or her role as "telling" others what to do, not as serving others. He or she becomes the "Lord's voice," not the "Lord's servant." "Taking charge," not serving, "gets the job done" for God. The assumption: the authoritarian knows what God wants, and He depends on the authoritarian to see that "it gets done."
When Christians stop serving God as dependents and start making God dependent on their choices, ungodly things happen. In the guise of "defending the faith," "protecting the truth," "exposing error," "protecting the church," and "following the ancient paths," ungodly attitudes are justified and wicked acts are sanctified.
God is the Creator. Jesus Christ is Savior. We are servants. Even if we have power, we are servants. Jesus had enormous power, but Jesus was a servant.
2 Timothy 2:24-26
Context: the apostle Paul wrote the younger preacher, Timothy. Paul was his spiritual mentor. Paul had enough confidence in Timothy to use him as a "trouble shooter." He left him in difficult situations to continue the work Paul began [see 1 Timothy 1:1-11]. He sent Timothy into extremely demanding, difficult circumstances [1 Corinthians 4:17]. When Paul wrote this letter we call 2 Timothy, the situation was grave and conditions would get worse. If ever a situation called for the use of power, this was it. But Paul, knowing that he would die soon, did not urge Timothy to use power.
A powerful temptation confronting the Christian under attack is to regard the opposers' attacks as personal attacks on him or her. We personalize the confrontation. We turn our thoughts inward. We are consumed by the suffering, the pain, and the injustice we endure. As we focus on ourselves, we become blind to the plight of the opposer.
Jesus did not do that. In pain and anguish, he asked God to forgive those who condemned, ridiculed, and executed him. Why? (1) He came to rescue the wicked. (2) He knew that the wicked people responsible for his death did not understand what they were doing.
Timothy's best friend and mentor was to be executed soon (4:6). Turmoil in congregations was on the rise. Things would get worse (3:1-7). Yet, Timothy was not to quarrel. He was to be kind. He was to teach. He was to be patient with those who wronged him. He was to gently correct his opposers. He was to desire their repentance and rescue. His desire was to be that they come to their senses. He was to feel for them. Why? They were the captives of the devil.
Timothy must remember that these people attacked and opposed God, not him. Paul wanted Timothy to rescue those doing the devil's will, not to destroy them. Paul wanted those in the church who were in the devil's snare to repent. Paul wanted Christians who were doing the devil's will to be freed so that they could do God's will.
When we believe that we accomplish God's will by quarreling with mean spirited hearts, we are in the devil's snare. When we believe that we accomplish God's will by destroying fellow believers who serve God, we are doing the devil's will, not God's. God's servants don't quarrel.
Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 2, Lesson 11
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