In many ways the world is shrinking – culturally, economically...
In his first letter to Timothy St Paul urges believers to pray for those in authority “…That we may live peaceful and quiet lives” St Peter gives similar advice in his first letter. For exuberant youngsters, that may seem boring, but it is about living a stable life unthreatened by the forces of evil that seek to bend us to their wills.
In his letter to Ephesus Paul identifies these forces as supernatural (6:12) but they have many human allies that threaten our freedom and security, our health and peace of mind. The quiet life the Apostle advocates is not one of passivity but of recognising those threats and resisting them in prayer and other appropriate means. Defining what is appropriate is the responsibility of those in authority, which is why they need our prayers.
Today’s threats are many – spiritual and moral, political, economic, military and medical – and probably others you will recognise yourself. The spiritual and moral threats are seen in domestic violence and what family breakdown does to the children involved. Increasing secularisation has meant moral relativism in which everyone does what is right in their own lives, uninformed by the Biblical norms that guided our ancestors. The political and economic threats are manifested in materialism and excessive debt. The military threats come from jihadist groups like Daesh, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda, who are hell bent on destroying Christianity and violently imposing their wretched beliefs in the Middle East and beyond, if we don’t stop them. The migration crisis they have triggered faces us all today. The latest medical threats are Ebola and the Zika virus.
So how do we respond to these threats? More to the point, how do we want our Government to respond to them? The active Christian community is now a small minority, told regularly not to impose our beliefs on the majority but this is a hollow argument because the majority is not of one mind and many who have withdrawn from active belief still retain some of their former Christian values.
The security threat posed by jihadists has led to heated debates about our military capacity to respond. The Government favours replacing our four Trident nuclear submarines with a modern alternative at a cost of at least twenty billion. In 2007 The Commons supported the change 409 to 61 but now critics say it will cost more and Jeremy Corbyn says he would not use it if he were P.M. Pacifism is a Christian option but so is the ‘just war’ argument. Russia’s annexation of the Crimean region of Ukraine is another disturbing threat, persuading many that unilateral disarmament would let down our NATO allies and make the UK more vulnerable to hostile threats.
Excessive national and personal indebtedness has been reduced but the recent performance of China’s economy has raised the threat level for our economy. Some would also be anxious at the growing movement for the UK to leave the EU because of the possibilities of significant job losses and loss of market share for our exports.
Much more could be said but the point is that the prospects of a peaceful and quiet life are not good and the need for believing prayer for those in authority remains a real priority.