Friday, January 20, 2017

Pray for those in High Positions

The United States of America has a new President. This news has met an increasingly sensitive and contentious American culture with either anger or jubilee. Social media is filled with name calling from all sides, and anger has driven crowds to riot in the streets. I am curious of any Bible verses being mentioned in this sort of cultural climate. One that has stood out comes from I Timothy 2:2 which says, "Pray for kings and all who are in high positions."

In verse 1, we read a "therefore," which should tell us that chapter 1 is informing this word from God to pray for those in government power. In chapter 1, Paul urged the young pastor Timothy to "wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience." Don't be like Hymenaeus and Alexander who shipwrecked their faith by not holding the faith in Jesus Christ with a good conscience.

Since pastor Timothy holds the faith with a good conscience, fighting the good fight of the faith, Paul's urgency to pray is then given. We are commanded to pray to keep the faith and a good conscience in our fight for the faith, seeing our dependence on God (faith) as our desperate need, and submitting to God as above all people, including kings and those in high positions.

Paul was writing this letter at a time when people in high positions were hard to pray for. Paul says to pray for Nero, Herod, even Pilate. People in high positions were hostile to the faith, persecutors of Christians, and power hungry individuals. So, the command to pray for government leaders is not based on whether or not we agree with them and their lifestyle.

Jesus told Pilate that the Roman prefect had no authority but what God has given him. Paul says in Romans 13:1 to submit to governing authorities because God put them there. Paul was fully aware of the weight of the command to pray for government leaders. Pray for ALL kings and government leaders. Paul doesn't tell us to pray only for my government leaders, but ALL. Not just the US President and congressperson and mayor, but also for Kim Jong-un, Ayatollah Khamenei, and Chairman Xi Jinping.

Why all leaders around the world? God desires all people from every nation to be saved. The overwhelming majority of Christians on planet earth right now doesn't even speak English, even more is not American. Our prayers are not to be exclusive, nor is the aim a prosperous and comfortable life. The aim is a quiet life that is kept on a global, disciple-making mission.

What specifically are we to be praying for our government leaders? Paul says we pray for government leaders "that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." God is sovereign over all government authorities. He has placed all governments on the shoulders of Christ our Lord (Isaiah 9:6), and all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to our King Jesus (Matthew 28:18). By His authority, Jesus commands His church to make disciples of all nations. Paul commands to pray for earthly government authorities, both good and evil, to free us to live peacefully and godly. Paul adds that God is pleased by our prayers for earthly government leaders because God is our Savior "who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Paul's focus is on Christ Jesus. We are to pray for government leaders to leave the church free to continue our disciple-making mission on earth, because God desires all nations to be saved.

Do you pray and so speak on social media and in private conversations displaying a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way? I am troubled by comments online, not from unbelievers, but those in the name of Jesus displaying an angry and name calling Christianity. We are to pray for our leaders to free us to live peacefully; this includes our interactions with the culture around us. My fellow Christians, be slow to speak (James 1:19), and when we do speak (James 1:26), let our speech display a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

Christian: pray for governing authorities around this world, both good and bad, to free us to live our lives in a godly way and to continue Christ's mission to make disciples of all nations. Continue in your good fight of the faith and celebrate your dependence upon Christ Jesus, the King of kings, Prince of peace. Let us pray and let us labor in His mission knowing we have no abiding city here, but we look to the city yet to come of which God Himself is the Architect and Builder. Meanwhile, let us display for a dark, unbelieving world that a life trusting in King Jesus is a life lived peacefully and quietly, godly and every way.

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