Stirred, Not Shaken

Stirred Not Shaken

Like many Americans, I went to the polls yesterday to vote in the “Super Tuesday” Presidential primary election. And, like many Americans, I was disappointed–although not especially surprised–by the outcome.

Before I go any further, let me quickly state that I believe that politics is a personal matter. I don’t really care (nor do I really want to know) who  you vote for, and I am keeping my voting choices to myself. This post is not about any candidate in particular or, for that matter, any political party affiliation. I’ve voted on both sides of the ticket in many elections and don’t believe that there’s a “Christian” party or that Christians should only vote for a certain party. There are good and bad leaders on both sides of the aisle, at all levels of government.

That said, I understand why so many are fearful of our country’s political future. I’ve heard some say–perhaps only partially joking–that they’ll move to another country if this candidate or that candidate are elected President. (Make room, Canada!) Our country certainly seems to be in turmoil and it is tempting to let worry and fear about the future consume our thoughts, but I believe that this is not a time to be shaken by the political climate. Rather, I believe we as Christians should be stirred instead.

We should be stirred to:

• Pray for our country. There’s no doubt in my mind that our country has wandered far from our reliance on God. We as a nation have sinned greatly and we are reaping what we have sown.

In a lot of ways we are like the Israelite nation of the Old Testament. For a long period of time they went through cycles of rebellion and repentance. The cycles would typically look like this: Israel would begin worshiping idols and rebel against God. God would send them a leader who was evil and corrupt, bringing great pain upon the nation. Israel would finally see the error of their ways, repent from their sins, and turn back to God. God would bless them with a leader who did was right in the sight of God. Eventually, Israel would wander again, and the cycle of rebellion/evil leader/repentance/Godly leader would begin all over again.

Given that our nation has so blatantly thumbed its nose at God for so long and given in to all kinds of evil behavior, it shouldn’t come as a shock to us when we end up with leaders who don’t imitate Christ. And, truth be told, we don’t deserve Godly leaders. But how thankful I am that God has mercifully placed men and women at all levels of government who still seek and follow after Him. Pray that more people of Christ step up into leadership roles at the municipal, state and national levels.

Pray especially that our nation, as a whole, will turn back to God in repentance and seek His forgiveness and healing.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I [God] will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (II Chronicles 7:14)

• Pray for our leaders. Even {especially} those we don’t vote for, or don’t like, or don’t trust. 

In I Timothy 2, Paul gives some instructions for how the church was to worship. His first instructions are about prayer–specifically, praying for political leaders:

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. (I Timothy 2:1-6, emphasis mine)

The early church was not living in a political utopia; on the contrary, they were facing persecution, corruption and abuse by those in power. Yet that didn’t get them a free pass to complain all they wanted about those in command, nor were they called by God to rebel against the government. Many had expected the Messiah to come as a political savior and rescue them from Roman rule; instead Jesus instructed his followers to render unto Caesar what was due to him monetarily (Matthew 22:15-22). And now Paul calls upon the church to pray for their leaders, saying that it pleases God.

No matter who wins the Presidential race this fall, no matter what their religious affiliation–if any–we as Christians are to pray for him or her. Goodness knows that they can use all the prayers for wisdom and peace that they can get in taking over as the world’s most powerful leader. Praying for them not only benefits our leaders, but it also produces peace for our lives and allows us to live in godliness and dignity.

• Show respect for our leaders. This one, admittedly, is a toughie. It’s easy to respect those in authority who we think are good leaders; it’s another thing to show respect when we don’t think they deserve it. And yet Peter, much like fellow apostle Paul, does not let Christians off the hook when it comes to how we should treat political leaders:

For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right… Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king. (I Peter 2:13-14, 17)

I believe that this respect extends to not complaining about our leaders–believe me, that is a struggle, but I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be called to show respect if God didn’t enable us to do it. I’m especially disheartened to see many of my fellow believers grumbling and complaining about the government on Facebook or other social media sites. I have Republican and Democrat friends alike who have posted negative–and in some cases, downright nasty–things about our political leaders. This is not right. As Christians we are called to a higher standard, to be set apart from the world, and yet so many of us complain and grumble and make jokes in poor taste about those who God has allowed to be in authority over us, and we’re no different from the rest of the world. It’s time for us to put a muzzle on our complaining.

As election season plows on throughout the better part of the year, I hope that you’ll join me in being prayerful for our country and for all of our leaders, while also guarding against giving in to the negativity. Let us be light in a world of darkness.

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