Instead of relentlessly criticising and tearing down our leaders, let us lift them up in prayer, respecting God’s anointing upon them as office-bearers in service to the nation.
Then David’s men said to him,
“Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to hand your enemy over to you, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’”
Then David got up and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly.
But it came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him
because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe.
So he said to his men,
“Far be it from me because of the Lord that I would do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to reach out with my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.”
And David rebuked his men with these words
and did not allow them to rise up against Saul.
And Saul got up, left the cave, and went on his way.
~ 1 Samuel 24:4-7 (NASB)
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
~ Romans 11:29 (NASB)
I wrote recently here regarding God’s favour, that it is never absent, even when circumstances seem to contradict that fact. Further, that unless we are seeing what is happening in the world around us through the lens of God’s favour being a constant, then we will misinterpret what is actually happening, and our response will come from the flesh instead of from the spirit.
But I am concerned that this is precisely how many Christians are responding to current events in the political arena, and in particular relation to our Prime Minister and his own Christian faith, and the policies adopted by the Government. This is the case whether individual Christians see themselves as politically conservative or progressive, although often for different reasons.
But it’s primarily those who are conservative voters whom I see regularly expressing anger and outrage at those policies and expressing the kind of “not my PM” mindset that has become increasingly prevalent in recent times, as well as vowing to vote him and his government out at the election early next year, with absolutely no consideration as to what the alternative may be. And then there are those who link him to wild “One World Order” conspiracies, or even claim that he’s a Freemason in disguise!
All of this reminded me of the episode in David’s leadership that I referred to in that previous article regarding the destruction of Ziklag by the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 30, where in verse 6 it tells us:
“David was in great distress because the people spoke of stoning him,
for all the people were embittered.”
In other words, they were responding from their flesh instead of seeking the Lord. And that’s exactly how I see those who are criticising our Prime Minister now are responding. It’s a spiritual bitterness.
What Does God Want?
So how do we respond from our spirits in this situation? What would God have us do?
That’s where I believe the passages above are relevant. I strongly believe that the man being criticised, not even due to his being a Christian, but due to the office he was elevated to, comes with a particular anointing from God.
And this is exactly what Scripture tells us. At the beginning of 1 Timothy 2, Paul makes petitionary, intercessory prayer and thanksgiving for “all people” of primary importance, but particularly on behalf of “kings and all who are in authority”. And the reason Paul tells us this is of such importance is “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
Not only is this “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” for our benefit, but in the larger scheme of things Paul is telling us it is an important component in God’s desire for “all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
This means that our most important focus isn’t for our own views of how well or badly our political authorities are performing against our own personal perceptions or our views regarding their relative honesty and transparency. It is instead to completely set aside our personal opinions, and intercede for those politicians, petitioning God to work through them through His Holy Spirit; above all, to give thanks for them as those God has anointed to be used by Him as instruments in His deeply laid plans.
So this means that the kind of sniping and rumour-mongering that have become part and parcel of so many Christian social media pages is not only the opposite of what Paul urged in 1 Timothy 2, but could also be seen to be the kind of action proscribed in Exodus 20:16, which forbids “bearing false witness” or “testifying falsely against your neighbour”.
And as Jesus revealed in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), there is nobody who is exempt from being regarded as a neighbour, so when we see that includes our leaders and authorities, our proper response towards them is to act with mercy and compassion, which is surely the mindset required to engage in the kind of prayers which Paul was describing to Timothy.
Obedience to Governing Authorities
There is another passage that has been hotly debated in this regard, which is in Romans 13:1-5 ~
“Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities.
For there is no authority except from God,
and those which exist are established by God.
Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God;
and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.
Do you want to have no fear of authority?
Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;
for it is a servant of God to you for good.
But if you do what is evil, be afraid;
for it does not bear the sword for nothing;
for it is a servant of God,
an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection,
not only because of wrath, but also for the sake of conscience.” (NASB)
For what it’s worth, my take on this is different to any others I’ve seen. The first thing we need to understand is the time this was written, which was during the reign of the increasingly erratic, megalomanic and brutal Emperor Nero. And many commentators have noted that, even under such an oppressive regime that so persecuted the early Christians, Paul could still write that passage.
But I think we need to also understand that there was a whole lot more to the administration of the Empire than the Emperor, with an enormous, as well as enormously effective, bureaucracy which operated to ensure the proper and effective administration of everyday life within the Empire for the benefit of all.
And it’s this that I believe Paul was referring to when he referred to “governing authorities”.
But in our political system there is no distinction, but an unbroken strand from the highest political office to those who carry out their bidding or enforce the law. In fact, our leaders are in effect “first among equals”, as the authority they possess is delegated by those who vote for them. In short, they lead to serve. So in our case, the instructions Paul gave the Romans refers to all those involved in politics and its administration.
Don’t Make It Personal
But there are those who will point out that we are also permitted, and even commanded, to practice civil disobedience in cases where our leaders make laws which are contrary to God’s, and that is absolutely true, and in cases like Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement in mid-20th century America we have an almost perfect template for that.
But for those who have attempted to jump on that bandwagon and claim some measure of parallel with the kinds of restrictions here during the pandemic, it needs to be noted that those like King never targeted the politicians. They instead were appealing to the politicians to change the laws, because it was the laws, not the politicians who were the problem.
And the same goes for the cause of all the unrest I’ve seen regarding various issues arising from restrictions during the pandemic, much of it aimed at the Prime Minister. We need to learn to air grievances that focus on the issue and not the person in authority.
Pray for Our Leaders
So, in relation to our Christian Prime Minister, we are instructed not to carp and criticise, or to question his integrity at every opportunity, or to smear or slander him, but to pray for his success under God, and for his decision-making to be inspired.
“We are called, all of us, for a time and for a season and God would have us use it wisely and for each day I get up and I move ahead there is just one little thing that’s in my head and that is ‘for such a time as this’.”
If only we all had that mindset, and especially in relation to how we support our politicians in prayer.
He also spoke about the corrosive potential of social media, and as it’s the underlying issue here, I think he deserves the final word:
“If you look at each other not as individuals but as warring tribes, you know it’s easy to start disrespecting each other; it’s easy to start not understanding the person across from you.”
So please, in future if you’re tempted to say anything derogatory or judgemental about the Prime Minister, or in fact any figure in public life, remember that and think again. Instead of dragging them down on social media, lift them up before the throne of grace in Heaven.
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