I was a little surprised when I read my african american friend’s facebook comment:
“As we celebrate MLK Day and the second inauguration of our president, I am proud that America has elected a black president. However, I still dream of the day when I will be proud of the black president we elected.”
He echoed a feeling shared by many people. Their delight in progress is genuine, but it’s offset by deep feelings of disappointment. Hopes for better leadership out of politics as usual have been repeatedly dashed. Yet we cannot allow disappointment to lead to disaffection or disengagement. This is not a Christian option.
Perhaps this would be a good time for a little review of how we as Christians should think about political leaders.
How should we think about political leaders?
Before answering this question, shall we pray? Why? Because pray is a great place to form perspective and we accept the instruction from the apostle Paul to the young leader Timothy as equally applicable to us:
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Timothy 2:1-2).
Prayer is the starting point for right thinking. And when you pray for political leaders, please keep in mind the connection God made for His people who were living as exiles in the ancient pagan city of Babylon:
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘… seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper’” (Jeremiah 29:1, 7).
Although they lived in a pagan city among those who had destroyed their city, God allowed no room for disaffection or disengagement toward their city. He even appealed to a motive of self-interest: “if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Postures of indifference or complacency would come back on them. Postures of separation and isolation would be disobedience to the call of God. Postures of resentment and vindictiveness would be efforts to usurp the place of God.
It’s helpful on occasions to zoom the lens out for the wider view of things. Consider the following Scriptures:
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth … From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. … God has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:24, 26-27, 31).
While it’s true that God is sovereign over history, consider the warning that the godly servant Daniel gave to the King of Babylon about being humbled by God, “until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes” (Daniel 4:25).
The King had became a little heady about his power and sovereignty. But, after being humbled, he confessed that, “God’s dominion is an eternal dominion; God’s kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. God does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth” (Daniel 4:34-35).
Let us confess that God is “the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever” (I Timothy 6:15-16).
There is a time coming when, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
As we live in this world, our calling is great and full of adventure. Those who questioned Jesus about which is the greatest commandment in the Law facilitated an answer from our Lord that revealed pour calling:
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-39).
Here then is the prayer of those devoted to the two great commandments:
“Our Father in heaven, may Your name be honored. May Your kingdom come soon. May Your will be done on earth just as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9, N.L.T.)
When we pray this way, we’re not only admitting that the world is in rebellion against God, we’re committing to someone greater than ourselves. We’re centering the desire of our hearts and the mission of our lives on the Sovereign of the universe.
As we pray for and honor earthly presidents, don’t lose sight of the wide lens perspective. And stay on mission through disciplined and passionate prayers focused on the highest possible concerns available to humanity.
- Honor for God’s name
- Submission to God’s kingship
- Obedience to God’s will.