Saturday, February 04, 2017

Praying for Government Leaders Can Be Dangerous

"I must be resolutely non-political, provided I remain ready to speak out when it is needed."
- Thomas Merton, 
A Year with Thomas Merton, Kindle Locations 5652-5653.

I agree with Merton. And ask: What is our relationship, as Jesus-followers, to politics? Here are some things I think about this.
  • Preach and teach about the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36) Underline not of this world.
  • Therefore: focus on Jesus and his kingdom. Nowhere does Jesus talk about tweaking some earthly political kingdom and becoming its earthly king. Indeed, Jesus systematically rejects such a thing. For example, in his temptation in the wilderness. For example, in his refusal to be an earthly king after feeding the 5000.
  • Speak out against unjust, evil legislation more than against unjust people. Attack immorality, not people. Remember: our real enemy is not flesh and blood. A pastor or any Jesus-follower can do this simply by preaching and teaching through the biblical texts. Everything is addressed there. There is nothing new, morally or immorally, under the sun.
  • Be consistently for something rather than against something. Start a community soup kitchen, like we have done here in Monroe. Refuse to curse government for not doing more. You, as a follower of Jesus, are to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. We don't need government to tell us to do this. Abstain from cursing government and use the extra time you will save from not sitting on your sofa bad-mouthing politicians to actively attend to those Jesus called "the least of these." Want to be radical? Slow-cook in Matthew 25:31-46 and let Jesus speak to you about this.
  • Look to Jesus as your hope and Savior, not to any political leader. Be not shocked when a political leader exhibits a moral failing. Or, less than that, a cognitive failing. That is to be expected. For proof, look at yourself. From a Jesus-theistic point of view no human king or political leader is the answer to our struggles. To view humans as such is wrong, and leads to constant disappointment. If you're going to be disappointed in anyone, be disappointed in yourself. Then, turn to Christ for help. You need it. So does every subhuman political leader. Which is why we are to...
  • Pray for political leaders, presidents, candidates, kings, queens, governors, mayors, and so on. They need it. We are instructed to do so. Remember that when Paul wrote such words he was not exactly in a political environment that embraced and loved Jesus. Pray for every government leader, whether or not you voted for them. Paul did not write this to Timothy (1 Tim. 2:1-2): I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people you voted for, for kings you voted for and all those in authority you voted for, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. And oh, yes, remember there was no voting at that time. Citizens didn't have a say in the matter, yet Paul said to pray for the royally endowed anyway!
  • If you are a Jesus-follower and are with other Jesus-followers in front of your TV cursing some political leader, why not try this? Say, "Hey, let's pray for them instead, like the Bible instructs us to do!" Turn the curse-session into an upper room. Real Jesus-followers will smile and say "amen" to this. Yet...  NWarning: prepare for possible resistance. Not everyone who worships on Sunday morning wants to follow Jesus.