2. Your Bitter Rival is Your Mother, Daughter, Sister, Son Etc. Months and even years are spent building up a rivalry between two characters on a soap opera that by now is a predictable precursor to the shocking discovery that the two are related. Olivia is Ava's proud mom on Guiding Light, Jessica and Natalie are sisters on One Life to Live and Katherine and Jill on The Young and the Restless turned out to be mother and daughter after years of being at each other's throats.
3. Weddings Stopped At the Eleventh Hour. Soap opera weddings get stopped by people on horseback, people being helicoptered to the chapel and people waving a piece of crucial evidence that implicates the bride or the groom in some evil deed which therefore makes the nuptials impossible to go through. When the preacher says, "Does anyone here know of any reasons that these two should not be wed?", that is the cue for the doors to be blown open by someone putting a stop to the wedding. More times than not, they are also back from the dead!
4. Amnesia. Every soap opera recycles the amnesia plot line for one of their characters at least once a year. This usually results from the classic bump on the head, but can also be provoked by any one of the mystery illnesses that makes it's way through soap opera land at an alarming rate each year. If you watch soap operas long enough, you can almost become convinced that amnesia eventually befalls everyone and is a more common ailment than a toothache.
Truth is stranger than fiction. I cannot make up the hundreds of stories I hear. One safe story from years ago, a most fascinating funeral, the man died, and the tension between the mother, the girlfriend and the ex-wife was incredible, all with different ideas…People who live in drama get priorities mixed up, out of balance thinking, no peace.
READ 1 Tim. 2:1-2. a wonderful goal: to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness. That does not mean we cannot have a lot of fun. The Christian life is anything but boring. If this church does anything well, it’s to enjoy each other. hardly a gathering takes place but that there is laughter... to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness sounds like a dream. A perpetual vacation. Is it possible? Is it possible on this earth? Would it be dull? When you get used to living with tension, it can be difficult to live without all the activity, the drama, the constant problems. How to make the transition from a life of drama to leading a quiet life can be difficult, yet that is a promise and our calling, to live peaceful and quit lives in all godliness.
Peaceful people are able to serve the Lord with so much more ease, help others, be the hands and feet of Jesus, to live in peace is good and healthy and satisfying. When Paul writes these words, he is not writing general advise to just anybody. Paul is teaching Timothy in this wonderful book of the Bible how to be a leader in a church that is full of drama. I try hard not to be a Christian /church that comes with impossible platitudes. Few people go from a life of drama to a life of peace/ instantly. Paul says the goal is to lead peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness, yet he also sees the reality of drama…
From last week’s sermon, we saw Paul urging Timothy to stay in the church he was serving and overcome those who were creating endless meaningless arguments, details of doctrines that are not edifying and don’t help people draw closer to the Lord.
Look at 1 Timothy 2:8. READ. Why do you think Paul says “without anger or disputing”? Because the community is full of drama and Paul is instructing Timothy to work as a leader to overcome the drama. People are fighting. If people spend too much time in meaningless arguments, the arguments cannot remain neutral. Before long the arguments become personal/a matter of determining winners and losers. When fighting becomes a way of life, soon nobody knows what started it. How to get out of the cycle is the question of the hour, to live in peace. May our goal be for all people to find the extraordinary peace and satisfaction that comes with knowing Jesus Christ.
Living in peace, not drama. We’ve already looked at the goal to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness. This is the starting place: READ 1 Timothy 2:1. Before we look at each of these four words, a summary. The goal is a peaceful life. The solution: care about others. We spend so much time thinking about me, me, me. If we fight, it is about me winning and you losing, me getting the last word... You want a life of peace? The Bible says start by caring more about the other person. Look through their eyes. Walk in their shoes. Bless the people with whom you are fighting, and then the only fight you can possibly have is one sided.
REQUESTS the Bible says. Develop a vision for the other person, how do you envision their life. This is my request, God, that this person will find happiness, satisfaction, peace (fill in the details)… This is how you find peace for yourself. Do you know how often I tell people what I want for them – I want the best for them. That’s how you bless others… Maybe my vision is too limited and God wants even something greater than what my mind can imagine, but it’s a start.
PRAYERS. When you are tempted to get back at somebody, defend yourself, respond in anger, train yourself to be a person of prayer. This is not a mystical super Christian calling, but the most profound prayers take place in daily living, the silent blessings that come from your heart. Leonard Ravenhill said, Notice, we never pray for folks we gossip about, and we never gossip about the folk for whom we pray! For prayer is a great deterrent. William Law: There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him.
Prayer is an amazing way of life that far from super spiritual. Instead of complaining because of everything that is wrong, ask the Lord to bless those of whom you are fighting. Prayer is peace. Prayer is godliness. Prayer is quietness. Another person said, Always respond to every impulse to pray. Learn to recognize those impulses to talk to God, to give your thoughts and emotions, the pricking of your conscience. Know yourself and how you respond in certain situation and train yourself to replace that impulse of anger/jealousy/putting yourself down/ train yourself to pray. Prayers are everyday words and thoughts.
I like the advice of David Jeremiah: How often have we prayed something like, "O Lord, be with cousin Billy now in a special way"? Have we stopped to consider what it is we're requesting? Imagine that you are a parent who is preparing to leave your children with a babysitter. Would you dream of saying, "O Betsy, I ask you now that you would be with my children in a special way?" No way. You would say, "Betsy, the kids need to be in bed by 9 pm. They can have one snack before their baths, and please make sure they finish their homework. You can reach us at this number if there's any problem. Any questions before we go?" We are very specific with our requests and instructions for our babysitters. We want them to know specifics. It should be no different with prayer.. Go to the Lord in prayer, and amazingly, while you are praying for the one with whom you have issues, the Lord will give you a calm spirit and a sense of rightness. It’s the way of God.
I’ll come back to intercession, but first THANKSGIVING. How does an attitude of Thanksgiving help us lead a life of peace and quietness? Because it helps us dwell not on what is wrong, but what is right. The easy/lazy way of life is to list everything that is wrong. Like my very odd roommate my first year at UW, Ron. I never could understand that guy. Every morning he would stand in front of the mirror and meticulously put every hair in place and literally talk to himself, most commonly referring to himself as stupid, and rehearsing everything he’d done wrong the day before: “Why did I say/do…” Practicing Thanksgiving is to list everything that is right. This is not the stuff of Soap Operas, but it is the stuff of a peaceful and quiet and godly life…
Back to INTERCESSION… with this word enlarge the understanding by including v. 3-6. You have to understand not your vision for all the people in your life, but it is vital that you understand God’s vision, God’s will, God’s passion for all people, including the people that are full of tension. Don’t just dream your dreams for others, adopt God’s dreams. Intercede on their behalf asking God to reveal his will for them. These are among the most exciting verses of the Bible, how do you stay out of drama? You intercede for those you are fighting with that the Lord will transform their lives. READ (and comment) 1 Timothy 2:3-6. Underline GOOD, PLEASES GOD. What pleases God above everything else for everyone and anyone to come to know the Lord. May that be out prayer…salvation is personal in the sense that I need to make my own commitment to the Lord, but salvation is not for me alone. No where in the Bible do we find an attitude of “to each his own.” Why would we not want a life of salvation for everyone. We stay focused on a life of peace by wanting others to find the same relationship with God that we have. Drama is based on two people having two different agendas. Desiring for others the best of God our Savior is the highest vision you can imagine for another, wanting the best for them. The miracle is that your life is changed in the process of wanting God’s best for others, because you only share what you know. The highest vision for others is to want for them what pleases God the most.
There is much in this scripture, the thrust is clear. Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. The word mediator is used, in other words, Jesus is the only answer to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness. Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. You want peace in this life? then settle the question once and for all: embrace Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. You remove yourself from drama by being thankful for the good and positive in your life and the life of others, blessing others by envisioning a peaceful life for them, obeying that impulse to pray instead of responding to tension by fighting back, and finally, interceding for them by wanting God’s best for their life: a life of faith, a life of knowing Jesus Christ.
The aging Paul is a mentor to the young man Timothy. As a leader, Paul says, understand the goal: to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness. Stay out of the drama, Paul says, because drama is all too common, it will eat you alive, anger and disputing will distract from the greater work of pointing the way to Jesus Christ. Request a better way for others, pray for those in your life, intercede by understanding what pleases God more than anything else, to know and embrace Jesus Christ who died in our place for our sins and now is the only way to know God, and be thankful, focusing on that which is right and good and positive. Refuse to engage in drama, and make choices that will lead to a life of peace with Christ. Amen.