As the Smoke Clears

It should not be surprising to anyone who browses social media, or even just the internet, to hear the political climate, and specifically, the 2018 Midterm Elections described as a battlefield. (I mean we even have “battleground” states when it comes to presidential elections”)

According to my own social media browsing, leading up to the election there was much in the way of insults, ridicule, and tearing down from both sides. You couldn’t watch a sporting event on television without seeing an ad that aimed to utterly break down the opposing parties candidate. I’m not here to really talk about the way we “fight” in America leading up to an election, or even about the morality of the way media portrays candidates.

In an American election, there are always (at least at this point in history) two opposing sides that are in a very real sense of the word fighting to support their own agenda. So today, six days after the end of the “war of 2018 American politics” I want to share my two cents as the smoke clears. Specifically, my thoughts on how we ought to act as Christians, during this season, and the one to come.

Firstly, and I think most importantly, we are to pray for our leaders. 

I Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone,  for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

In the first verses of 1 Timothy chapter 2, Paul urges that Timothy should pray for EVERYONE. I could camp out here and just talk about the implications of praying for everyone, but it’s not the point of this post. We are to pray for our neighbors, our family, our enemies, even those who would kill us. Everyone. Period. Then he goes on to specifically point out “kings and all those who are in authority”.

Let’s just process for a moment the idea of praying for our leaders, those who we agree with and those we don’t. From my time on social media in this past week, I saw heartbreak on both sides. I saw people who had bought into the message of their candidate, and who were in literal tears thinking about the repercussions of their resulting loss. I think it’s a beautiful thing to care that much about an election. But then think of that person, who is broken, who is distraught because they think their voice has been snuffed out. Think of them in humility coming before God, recognizing that He is in control, putting their hopes and fears aside, and praying for the GOOD of the candidate that won.

What if instead of going to social media to blast the system, to celebrate or mourn the decision that was made, we all as a people of God silenced ourselves from that, and prayed for every single one of them.

The 2018 mid-term election saw 35 of the 100 seats of the Senate up for the taking. All 435 seats of the House of Representatives were voted on. And 39 Governors of states/territories were elected. Therefore just on the national level, out of 539 offices (across governers/senators/house representatives)  509 were voted on and elected. 94% of the above offices were up for election. If you think about the significance of that much of the legislative branch, the branch of government in charge of making laws, you can see why it was so important to so many people across the country. Why they care so much.

If we are people who care THIS much about our government, shouldn’t we AT LEAST commit to praying for them on some level of regularity?

Second, we are to submit, respect, and give honor to our elected officials.

Romans 13:1 – Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.

Romans 13: 6-7 And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s servants, continually attending to these tasks. Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor

Regardless of how deserving we think any given official in the government is we are to submit, respect, and give honor to them. We don’t respect the person because somehow we feel they are deserving of it. We respect them because we realize that God placed them in authority and it is an act of obedience to Him.  And every ruler serves (whether they recognize it or not) for the Glory of God.

What am I talking about with this?

Think about your social media for the past 5-10 weeks. Think about the meme’s you saw, the videos that were shared, and things that have been said since the election. Were the things said about the president, the candidates, and the two opposing political parties honorable? Civil? Did they show respect? If we participate in this type of immature buffoonery we not only mark ourselves as lacking sense, we actually violate the desire of God, which is that we should honor them.

Let me be clear here, that I believe this issue crosses parties, no one side is doing worse than others, and It’s not merely non-Christians doing this.

I have people I care about and love to the bottom of my heart that made decisions to post things this week that made me cringe. We can’t settle to be like the rest of the world in this, we must be, as in so many other areas of life, set apart, holy, different. By this, the world will know us and will know Jesus.

This kind of respect and honor isn’t easy. It’s not easy to see someone who you disagree with wholeheartedly and not think of ways you can break them down. It’s not easy to see someone who has said things that make you want to rip your hair out, and instead of shouting from the rooftops tearing them apart to respectfully disagree with them.

I think this is the point where we get confused. Paul never tells the Roman church they can’t disagree with the government. That they can’t speak their mind. He never tells them to quietly accept the government, he says to respect and honor them.

Honoring those who are in authority in our government does not take away your voice, it just changes it. 

You can disagree, speak out against policy, even protest (it’s built into our constitution) in a way that does not ridicule or tear apart. Nowhere in the above passages does Paul tells us to not have an opinion, or to keep our opinion to ourselves, he just tells us the manner in which that opinion should be voiced.

This has been something I’ve been very passionate about for a long time, but I am in no way perfect. I struggle, slip and even fail many times in giving and showing honor to those who God has placed in authority in my life. But never in my life have I noticed this much disrespect, dishonor, and ridicule from my brothers and sisters in Christ. We can never expect the world to look like Jesus. We can never expect the world to act like Paul is suggesting in Romans. But what would it look like if WE did?

How much would the world (even the candidates we support) change if the bride of Christ started showing honor to whom honor is due? What if we were set apart in this way? How large of a ripple would it send across American Politics?

Maybe none. 

But how will we ever find out, if we don’t try?

The “War of 2020 American Politics” began the day after the midterm votes were counted. There has never been a time like the present for us to show our true colors. Let’s be holy.

 

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