Monday, November 1, 2010

Fear God, Honor the King

Not me. I won't just shut up, sit in the back of the bus, and let the Secularists tell me what's best for me, my family, and my country. Actually, I expect to be told that from the progressive, intellectual class. But sadly, that's what some Christians want me to do as well!

Should a Christian dirty himself with the political issues of the day? Shouldn't we be about the Great Commission instead? If I'm actively involved in preaching the Gospel I won't really have much time to worry about who's up or down in the polls, who is winning the day, and what those wicked, sneaky people over at Fox News are doing.

How about a brief survey of the New Testament. It is not silent on the issue of politics, leaders, and the Christian's relationship to them. 1 Peter 2:13-17:

"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king" (NASB).

"Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God , an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil" (Rom. 13:1-4 NASB).

"First of all, then I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1-4 NASB).

Christians are told to respect their leaders. That is a hard one! It's easy to enjoy the jokes that Letterman, Leno, and others tell about them. It's hard not to snicker at references to Monica Lewinsky and a stained blue dress. It's easy to rail against the lies and deception of Watergate, the reaction time to Katrina, and the list goes on. More than once I've fought the urge to buy the "OBAMA" bumper sticker that says, "One Big Ass Mistake, America!"

I've had the opportunity to see two presidents in person. One is my all-time favorite, Ronald Reagan. The other was Bill Clinton. Both times I stood and applauded. They were my Presidents. One I loved, the other ... not so much. But they held the office, as does the current occupant, and whoever comes after him, whether in 2012, or 2016. They are worthy of respect for the office they hold, and submission because that's what God asks us to give, even when they aren't so good, or favorably disposed towards Christians. As an American, I will continue to respect the office holder, and work to elect those whose values are in line with Christian values, whenever they can be found. The same holds true for other elected leaders.

I'm going to pray for them. But this is prayer with a purpose! Yes I want them to be safe from harm, healthy, filled with, and led by God's wisdom. All that is pretty easy to understand. But why am I praying for them? Paul says that I might lead a "tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity..." I want them to do their job, and then get out of my way so I can do mine!! God desires all men to be saved, and when government isn't oppressing me I am going to have an easier time, and perhaps more opportunities to do just that.

Peter's words are very instructive: "Act as free men..." To act is to do something, and he indicates that I'm to do something positive, and not use my freedom to do evil things. Some Christians seem to have forgotten that we have unique freedoms and opportunities here that other Christians who live in other parts of the world do not presently enjoy. It is right that we use our voice as effectively as those who do not espouse Christian values use theirs. Maybe this is why Jesus said, "...for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light" (Lk. 16:8).

The Secularists are not going to be quiet. My impression is that if they lose the election they will become louder, more shrill, more angry, and more determined to seize power at the next opportunity. Are Christians to just roll over and dutifully take it? If we have the God-given opportunity to let our voice be heard, why not let it be heard? If we can stay in submission to our Constitution, government leaders, etc. and use the process that it affords to all citizens, why wouldn't we? If we can find some political leaders who espouse values similar to ours, why wouldn't we support them? Maybe there is a Nehemiah or even an Esther out there yet! I'll support them in that secular work, in hopes that my Christian ministry will be more effective as well.

I don't want to be naive and just stick my head in the sand when so much hangs in the balance. My voice and my vote may not count for much, but it's about all I have to impact the political process. I think I'll continue to use both.

C'mon, Murphy. Let's go outside!