Giving respect where it is due

Posted: January 10th, 2011 | Filed under: Christians and politics | No Comments »

Just after the most recent presidential election, I came across some supposedly Christian websites that used very insulting names for the new president of the United States. Their invectives were filled with vitriol, and not an ounce of respect could be found in their writings.

The Bible is very clear about how Christians should behave towards leaders, whether democratically elected or otherwise. We are to be subject to authorities, “for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Furthermore, our attitude is to be one of respect and honor, regardless of whether we agree with a leader’s policies. The New Testament is very clear: “Whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

Part of the issue, I suspect, is that we live under a form of government that is based on democracy. Instead of accepting that God alone establishes all authorities, we live under the illusion that we establish them. When a leader pursues policies with which we disagree, then don’t we have the right to rebel and challenge and even insult? Society in general may respond “yes”, but the Bible teaches otherwise.

We should be immensely grateful for the current freedom to practice our faith without interference from the authorities – something that was not the case when Paul wrote to Christians about giving honor and respect to leaders. We should be thankful for the opportunity to share the gospel openly, without fear of recrimination.

Does publicly damning and ridiculing political leaders with whom we disagree serve to help or hinder our spiritual cause? Instead of shining the light of the gospel, angry tirades simply dilute and discolor that light. We channel our passion into a meaningless, indeed ultimately harmful, personal pursuit instead of staying focused on our Lord and his ways.

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