Holy Hands

Three minutes after the Buffalo Bills lost last Sunday I found myself surrounded by a world of hostility. Texts came in from angry and disappointed friends. I too felt frustrated and annoyed. The next day in the car I listened as the hosts on sports radio and those that called in lamented with pure exasperation. No one was happy.

Four days later hope resurfaced and optimism emerged. Then, they lost again. And the hostility increased.

Now keep in mind this is just a football team we’re talking about. When you compile this reality with all the other actually important aspects of our lives (a world at war, police shootings, police shootings [redundancy intentional], an inane election, etc.) the result is an environment that is overflowing with discouragement, aggression, and irritation. All of which is fertile ground for anger and argument.

The anger in this world is palpable and on display. We hear it on the radio. We see it on TV. We experience it in the workplace. It finds us in the car, at home, at school, and sometimes even at church. Indeed, on most days there seems like there is no escape from hostility. And worse yet, on some days it seems like we have escaped it until…. this world surprises us again.

St. Paul writes, “I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray lifting up holy hands without anger or argument.”  I Timothy 2:8

St. Paul writes this because he hopes that all people will come to know God through Christ and he knows that they won’t so long as anger and argument persist. For Paul, anger and argument are contradictory to the message and meaning of the gospel. He knows that you cannot argue people to Jesus because it actually pushes folks away. He knows that life will not be achieved through hostility and discord.

I often counsel people who find themselves in hostile and argumentative environments. And always, my first words of guidance are: break the cycle. See, more arguing will not end a disagreement. Neither will more fighting end discord. More war will not bring peace. And more bombs will not lead to a secure life. Rather, the life, love, peace, and joy we seek will only arrive through forgiveness, reconciliation, love, and grace. Which is why Paul exhorts us to: lift up our hands in prayer without anger or argument.

We live in a world where a football team has the power to disrupt an entire community. Where a simple game can lead to violence and anger. And, where everything else only magnifies and intensifies aggression and angst.

The good news is: we who opt for peace and reconciliation will claim the day because the Lord of creation has claimed us. Jesus conquered our sin with sacrifice. He brought us together as he was broken. He fills us up as he is poured out. He grants us life with his own death. In times of trial may we remember this and live into it as we seek peace, life, and joy.

Lift up your hands for peace not anger.
Lift up your voice in praise not aggression.
Lift up your prayers for more love and not hate.
Lift up your holy hands.

In the Way,


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