REAL Christians Pray for Those in Washington

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Today is day 3 of the 18th government shutdown in our nation's history.  I have never heard more vitriol, criticism, demonization, and downright hatred of our nation's leaders than I have in the last week.  Much of it has been from those who follow Jesus.  Shame on them.  There is nothing touchy-feely about this matter.  It is a blatant sin to gossip, criticize, and demonize the President of the United States and our elected leaders, regardless of whether they act in our best interest or not.  If you're new to follow Jesus, this may be a shock to you.  Here's why we must repent immediately of this sin.

1.  We fear God by respecting and honoring our leaders.

According to 1 Peter 2:13-17...

13 For the Lord's sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state,  14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.  15 It is God's will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God's slaves, so don't use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.  17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters.* Fear God, and respect the king. 
My desire is NOT to engage in a debate on silly notions like, "Hey Rob!  Paul was talking about a Roman Caesar who was not an elected official, so this passage does not apply to your point." Okay.  Whatever.  Just make sure your emotions over your government don't cause you to miss Paul's phrase, "all human authority."  That pretty much sums up all governing powers who are human beings.

2.  When we respect and honor them we respect and honor God.

According to Romans 13:1-7...
1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.  2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.  3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.  4 The authorities are God's servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God's servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.  5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.  6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.  7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
No, it's not fair that our governing officials spend too much of our hard earned money, get our government into debt, and then tax us even more to pay for stuff that we don't really want or need.  Yes, we must still honor and respect them because God put them there, even though you think you did by voting for them, and even though you wish you had not by not voting for them.  Regardless of your vote, God is sovereign, and those people are in those offices of authority and leadership because God saw to it.

3.  God wants everyone in Washington D.C. to be in His family.

According to 1 Timothy 2:1-6...
1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.  2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.  3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.  5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.
God wants followers of His Son, Jesus Christ, to pray for our leaders.  He does NOT want us to criticize them on Facebook, gossip about them around the dinner table, scorn them at work, or mock them in the pulpit on Sunday mornings.  You will never find a single shred of support for that kind of behavior in the Bible.  It's sinful, and we've got to repent.

4.  God wants us to repent from our sinful attitude and speech toward our leaders.

We learn from the life of Jesus that even though He had authority over ever other ruler who was trying Him the hours before He was crucified, He submitted Himself to them.  I honestly don't know how He maintained His composure.  But He went willingly with the 600 Roman soldiers who showed up to arrest Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He went willingly to appear before Herod and Pilate.  And He went willingly with the Roman soldiers who led Him to be crucified.  At anytime, as He Himself confessed to His would-be rescuer, Simon Peter, Jesus could have called down an exponential number of legions of angels to help Him.  But He didn't.  He respected human authority.  And He respected them even though He Himself was the One who put them all in their various positions of authority.

We also learn from the life of Paul that respect for leaders, even if you deem them obsolete and full of you know what, is essential for the follower of Jesus.  In Acts 23 Paul appeared before the High Priest, a position which was, in and of itself, no longer even necessary since Christ had already come.  Nonetheless, the High Priest was in a position of authority because God had put him there.  And when Paul's eyesight seemed to get in the way of a much-needed awareness about his surroundings when he was on trial, he was justifiably punched in the face for his disrespect.  
1 Gazing intently at the high council, Paul began: "Brothers, I have always lived before God with a clear conscience!"  2 Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth.  3 But Paul said to him, "God will slap you, you corrupt hypocrite! What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?"  4 Those standing near Paul said to him, "Do you dare to insult God's high priest?"  5 "I'm sorry, brothers. I didn't realize he was the high priest," Paul replied, "for the Scriptures say, 'You must not speak evil of any of your rulers.'"
There's just no arguing with a text like that.  Just no way at all.  No matter what our government leaders have done or continue to do that we don't like, there's no biblically justifiable cause for sinful speech toward them.  If anything, we should exemplify our faith in God to change things by doing something so stunningly simple that it shocks the imagination: pray for them.

If you are a follower of Jesus and you have slandered, gossiped, mocked, scorned, criticized, villainized, or demonized our President or our government leaders, then you've sinned...big time.  But there's a big-time God who can forgive even the most big-time sins.  And there's a Jesus who demonstrated how to best behave and speak regarding our earthly rulers. And there's a Holy Spirit who can fill us with His fruit so that the words from our mouth and the meditations of our heart are pleasing to God and helpful to one another.  

Make that your aim...especially on Facebook where everyone taps into your root of bitterness and gets defiled in the process.  REAL Christians pray for those in authority.  Backslidden Christians sin against those in authority, and therefore against God.  

In conclusion, a good test of what you really believe is to ask your kids what they think you think about our President and those in Washington.  Your kids will probably tell the truth. And then you'll find out what kind of atmosphere you've created in your home.  Ask them how they would respond if our President came over for dinner to your house.  Would they welcome him and make the best dinner in the world for him and give him the best seat in the house?  Or would they turn him away, scheduling something else so they wouldn't have to be home, or invite him in ane expect to hear you give him an earful of misery and bitterness?  Or would they expect that you would invite him in and give him an earful of blessing and encouragement?

Be careful about the words that come out of your mouth when it comes to our leaders.  Embrace this final word from Paul in Ephesians 4:29-31.
29 Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.  30 And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.  31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

About the Author: Rob is a follower of Jesus at Jubilee Church, where he works as an entrepreneur and operations contractor in Woodstock, GA. From there he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 19 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.

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