So you might have heard that we had an election last night. Today about half the country is in mourning and the other half is rejoicing. But whether or not your candidate won is irrelevant to what the Bible says is your obligation to the leaders of our nation. Scripture gives clear guidelines that every follower of Christ must follow if we are to be obedient. Here are a few, in on particular order.
1. Recognize the Authority of our Leaders. Your candidate may not have won. You may not like who's in the White House. You may still have a bumper sticker that reads "My President is Charlton Heston." Thumbs on the bumper sticker because that's just funny. But that doesn't change what scripture says. Romans 13:1, "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." Did you catch that last part? Paul says that there are no authorities except for the ones that God has instituted. This means that whoever you voted for, God voted for President Obama. Now I know we're getting into some muddy theological waters here but the point is plain--leaders are instituted by God and their authority comes from God alone. So followers of Christ are to recognize that authority.
2. Obey our Leaders. Notice the first phrase in vs1 again--be subject. That means we obey. That means we follow the law. That means we pay our taxes. That means that, until a law is changed, we are obligated to obey that law. Does this mean we're obligated to disobey God? Not at all. If a law demands that we stop praying or stop sharing the gospel, we disobey that law because God is our ultimate authority. But unless a law specifically calls us to disobey God, we obey that law.The beauty of our nation is that we can write letters of protest, we can march, we can work to get the laws changed. But until they are, we obey them.
3. Pray for our Leaders. I Timothy 2:1-2, "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..." We are commanded to pray for our leaders. Not encouraged to, not challenged to, not recommended to; but commanded to. Lots of Christians gripe and complain about our nation's leadership. My question is, do we pray for them as well? Because I know I don't as I should. It's much easier to complain about them than to pray for them. Now I've heard some people say, "You bet I'll pray for President Obama. I'm praying Psalm 109:8, "May his days be few; let another take his office." That's sort of missing the point. And by sort of, I mean completely. Why?
4. Respect our Leaders. I Peter 2:17, "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." Now keep in mind that many scholars believe that Peter wrote this letter during Nero's persecution of the church. Consider that for a moment. When Christians were being persecuted and killed, Peter writes that we are to respect our leaders. I've heard many comments that essentially say, "There's nothing about our President I respect so I won't respect him at all." Actually there is something about him--his authority is from God, and you are commanded to honor him. We can--and should--disagree when things are done that are contrary to scripture. We should advocate for change and live gospel centered lives. But none of this should be done disrespectfully.
5. Don't Trust in our Leaders. Note I didn't saw we shouldn't trust them; rather, we shouldn't put our trust in them. God has created us to glorify Himself, and to allow us to enjoy His presence forever. Politics is not the way God intends to bring either of these about. Our hope and our trust should not be in whomever is in the White House. Our hope is found in the fact that Jesus is on the throne, that He has secured our righteousness before the Father and has granted to us the great privilege of going and making disciples. That's what matters most, and that should be our focus. Psalm 20:7, "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." Our hope isn't predicated on who is in Washington. Our hope is in the Lord.
So let us, as followers of Christ, be obedient to His word. Let us be salt and light in the world. Let us stand for what honors God and oppose that which dishonors Him. But let us do so in an obedient way. And if you're convinced that President Obama is the Antichrist, that he is determined to take away our rights to pray and he wants to persecute us, I would encourage you to consider Matthew 5:44-45; "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.