“Let every soul be subject to the governing authority. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God … therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience sake” (Romans 13:1,5)
Frankly, I am amazed at the disdain that many who name the name of Jesus have for those in political office. Now before I get lumped in with this disdain, let me state that I also have strong opinions on certain leaders and the policies they espouse. But my opinions are just that, my opinions.
Someone will challenge me and state that often governmental policies are not in keeping with righteousness and godly living. What we need is a theocracy in which God is in control and we follow His principles. I would agree if we could find evidences in history where Jesus’ teaching and the law of love reigned supreme. The difficulty is that where this has been attempted, it has quickly devolved into control, even destructive control, over others.
So how do we deal with government, even bad government?
- Authorities are appointed by God, whether we voted for them or not. To resist the authority is to resist the ordinance of God and thus bring judgement on ourselves. (1-2)
- Live a godly life and do what is good. (3-4) “This is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men …” (I Peter 2:15). To do otherwise is to incur the wrath of government and disobey the will of God.
- Render to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (6-7). Dishonesty on tax returns; lying at border crossings reflect more than just trying to keep more money in our pocket because “the government only abuses our resources”. It may reflect “sin in the camp”.
- “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (I Timothy 2:1-3)
Harvard Business Review had an article on “The Ideal Praise To Criticism Ratio”. They discovered that those who performed the best had a 6:1 ratio. For every criticism they needed six positives. Even marriages require a 5:1 ratio to maintain a healthy and vibrant relationship. hbr.org/2013/03/the-ideal-praise-to-criticism.
What if we were to try this with those who are in authority over us? You know, the ones that are appointed by God, with no exclusions. Every time we criticize our politician, we offer five prayers for that person. Not the kind that says to “break their jaw and knock out their teeth.” We pray for God’s protection and ask Him to grant wisdom and guidance. We pray for those in elected office, that they may work in harmony and find common ground. We pray blessing over the spouse and children. You get the picture. We might actually find that this may change our attitude and prompt us to live more righteously, even with those we may disagree with.
If we truly believe that prayer has power to effect change because it connects us with Him who has absolute control, then may we be found to be a praying people, full of grace and truth, as was our Lord.