funeralA friend of mine died this week.  Rocky was a good, solid guy who loved the Lord and loved his family.  All who knew him will miss him, but we’re glad he’s with the Lord.  At his funeral, I thought about the thing I think about at every funeral:  a week ago this person was with us.  Maybe sick, maybe comatose, maybe feeling great, but they were here in this world. 

Then I wonder where I’ll be in a week.  There’s no guarantee that I will be alive – that’s the nature of an unforeseeable future.  But for the child of God, it’s not a reason to dread tomorrow or lose heart.  Faith instills assurance of heaven so that if my funeral is next week, well, I hope my family and friends give glory to the Lord and enjoy the chicken.

Funerals should serve to remind us of our mortality (something we don’t consider too much), but there’s another important lesson to relearn.  Others around us are in the same boat which, for some strange reason, doesn’t cause us to have a great sense of urgency to make sure they hear the good news that their sins can be forgiven.

One of Isaac Watts’ great hymns describes the certainty of death like this: “Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away”.   Or to cite more familiar words: “…it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  It’s a reality, we all know that.  But how does this truth fit into the Paphos Paradigm of ministering to leaders?

Paul lists four types of prayer for all people in 1 Timothy 2:1, then specifies these prayers should include “kings and all those in authority”.  One of these types of prayer is translated “supplication” (dee’sis) which means “an urgent request or plea for a pressing need”.  What is the urgency?  What is the need?  Is it a bill coming up for a vote on the floor?  Is it wisdom for the next multibillion dollar appropriation?  Is the need to have any given office holder reelected or booted out?

I would submit that the urgency, the reason for the plea, the pressing need is found two verses later:  “God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  The salvation and subsequent spiritual growth in the heart of a leader is the need.  The glory of God is at stake, not the appeasement of passionate constituants.

These leaders, like you and me, aren’t guaranteed their next breath.  The Church must stop fooling itself into the false notion that the real urgency is the next election cycle.  Elections are important, but they cannot be our primary focus to impact the culture when we’ve been given such a clear mandate to evangelize and disciple leaders.  To neglect the eternal impact of sharing the gospel in order to make temporary changes in governmental structure is a redefinition of God’s priorities. 

He made it clear: 1 Timothy 2 starts with the words “First of all”.  In other words, get ready to hear My priorities.  Don’t hide your head and pay no attention to who is leading you.  And don’t give yourself primarily to grassroots movements to change the balance of human power.  Get in a closet somewhere and acknowledge Divine power and plead with urgency for the souls of those in authority.

One day, they will stand before the Lord and the only thing that will matter is what they did with Jesus.