Quick: what are two topics that stir up the most passion and disagreement? If you answered politics and religion, then you answered correctly. Every other hot topic falls under one of these two categories. Why is this? Because these are the two biggest forces that influence the world around us. Politicians could be likened to gods of men, while God himself becomes a figure we use to reinforce our political beliefs. Sadly, this happens frequently within Christian circles. It’s easy to disguise our obsession with politics as being the product of “concerned and involved US citizens,” though it’s seldom convincing. The reality is that if we spent as much time studying our Bibles as we did watching the news, we’d be radically more effective in the grand scheme of God’s redemptive plan for humanity. And it is that plan that truly matters. That being said, we need to be careful about what we say about our politicians in person and on social media. Regardless of whether or not you voted for Obama, you should support him. I don’t mean that you support or agree with his causes or ideologies—I mean that you support him as a man. Let me explain.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. – Romans 13:1-7
What is clear here is that God appoints authorities. This does not mean that the government is beyond scrutiny. But we should be very careful how we talk about them, regardless of whether or not our freedom of speech enables us that right; regardless of whether or not we agree with them. The point remains that it is God who appoints our authorities.
So how do we respond to our politicians?
In two ways:
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. – Peter 2-13-18
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. – 1 Timothy 2:1-2
Listed above, we see that we respond to our leaders it two ways: 1) Obedience, 2) Prayer. As Christians, we should pray for wisdom for our politicians constantly. We should not be surprised when our leaders fail in wisdom and morality when we fail as Christians to support them through prayer. We are not required to support the causes of our leaders, but we are required to support them through prayer.
Obama, whether you agree or disagree with him, has been appointed by God to be our ruler and our authority. Therefore we honor him as it says in 1 Peter 2, and we pray for him, as it says in 1 Timothy 2. These are non-negotiable for Christians. Knowing that God has selected our leaders, we are empowered by God to have peace of mind with whoever ends up in the White House. We are given the power to love them and support them through prayer regardless of whether or not we buy into their vision. If you can’t find it in your heart to love and pray for your leaders (especially the ones that you disagree with) then you must conduct a serious revaluation of your heart. Jesus said in John 13:35 that people would know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another. Some may be tempted to say, “Well who is this another that Jesus talks about?” Jesus was asked a similar question in Luke 10:29, which Jesus followed up with the story of the good Samaritan. In short, the answer is that this another that we are called to love is everyone. ( Luke 10:36-37, Matt 5:44, Luke 6:35). It is by our love that people will know that we are different.
We are called to be set apart, and we are called to be like Christ. Are we like this?