‘Tis election season and the hate is spewing. It’s embarrassing, really. That politicians are elected because they are acting worse than children as they attack each other. Even more embarrassing is the behavior of Christians. Since when is it Ok to slander, accuse, joke, speak maliciously against leadership? We have clear commands of Scripture to the contrary.
Interesting I’ve wondered if this very perspective has tainted my reading of Scripture. Today I read 1 Tim 2:1-4 in a different light. The Word opens that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving should be made for all men, and then it highlight in particular “kings and all those in authority.”
The first new thing that jumped out to me was “thanksgiving.” When was the last time we offered thanksgiving for a king or leader? Perhaps when our person of choice was elected. But seldom after that, and NEVER for the person we don’t like. In fact we’ll find ways to slander that person.
And then I read the next 2 verses that say pray, especially for those in authority, so that “we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” I had always read this verse and been taught that he wants good leadership because peaceful times are what set the tone for “all men to be saved.” But when I read that verse again, I am beginning to think differently. The context is the kings and those in authority. I think Paul might be saying that he wants all men to be saved, including the kings and those in authority. Because even at the end he tells his readers that he is a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.
So why is this important? The Gentile kings were typically, especially in Paul’s day, not known for the righteousness. We whine about the corruption and evil in our government but it is hardly comparable to that of living under Roman authority. Some of the emperors were simply lunatics. I’m sure the feelings and grumblings and anger towards authority, even from the Christ followers was strong. But Paul is making an exhortation, pray for them because he wants even these to be saved.
Imagine holding a scale, one of those old-fashioned ones with two plates on each side. On one side is jokes, criticism, slander, malicious talk, etc… about a president. On the other side is requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving. Which side would hold the best most weight? It shouldn’tbe balanced. At all. But which side of my obedience (and your) obedience do we fall upon?