OK, I rant … The established Church has often grasped for power, the true Church sought to live out love and humility. Those interested in change grasp for having a voice, those passionate about God’s glory for unknown lives of faithfulness that point people to an all-glorious God. I fear sometimes we get confused on this issue when it comes to how we treat, talk about, pray for, love and honor those in leadership over us … specifically now speaking of President Obama. I have a concern for “honor” in the American conservative church these days. I have read, heard, and observed those who seem to think whoever doesn’t agree with a Biblical World View should be treated with disdain, called evil, maybe even undermined. This is so contra-Biblical and opposed to the Gospel Christ preached and lived. Let me offer these few arguments in my defense …
(1) The word “honor” (timao) used in 1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor (king) is the same verb Jesus used speaking of honor to His father (John 8:49), in the calling of honor to the Son (John 5:23), in honoring parents (Matthew 15:4; Mark 7:10; Luke 18:20; Ephesians 6:2); in honoring widows (1 Timothy 5:3); and in those the Father will honor who serve Him (John 12:26). If we teach our kids to honor and obey their parents, but speak disrespectfully about the President we have established a double standard. If we offer love and compassion to widows in need, but speak without love toward our leaders we are hypocrites. If we say we love the Lord Jesus Christ, but refuse to speak with grace and honor to those He has put over us, we are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals.
(2) If we take the example of Christ as a model for our service (Philippians 2:5) then our heart is to be that of humility and service, selflessness and not grumbling. He loved to the ultimate, is our response to complain and attack to the ultimate? He came for the sick, to heal and help, not to ridicule and despise those who stood against him (He reserved the ridicule and attacking for the religious frauds).
(3) How about the example of Joseph, mistreated by Potiphar’s wife, forgotten by friends, and he made no attacks, complaints against the leadership, he humbly endured and God elevated him. What about Peter and John (Acts 4) who when they were told to stop preaching said they couldn’t but were willing to accept whatever consequences without grumbling or harsh words against their accusers. Then there is Paul, who faced some pretty aweful stuff (2 Corinthians 6:4-10) but never attacked those over him, called them names, or dishonored those he sought to lead to Christ.
(4) If, as some believe, President Obama is evil and against the plan of Christ, then shouldn’t their response be as Jesus directed in John 15:20, not suprised and no need for alarm or attack in response, but rather humble acceptance as Jesus, our Master did?
(5) It seems to me I recall the Sermon on the Mount talking about loving enemies and praying for them. I actually read a “Christian” leader say we shouldn’t pray for President Obama because his agenda is evil. I guess I missed that caveat in Jesus’ sermon. He said loving those who love and agree with you isn’t that hard, even the unbelieving world does that. Do not you who oppose the President have an opportunity to demonstrated that you live the words of Jesus by how you respond to a situation that you call unjust? Maybe it should be practiced. I also recall that when President Bush was in office, these same voices wanted his attackers to treat him with honor, why do we not offer the same thing we were asking of others a few years ago?
(6) In a world where terrorism is an ever present reality we need to be far different. Terrorists attack their enemies to hurt and destroy. The pattern of the Christian martyr is to love their attackers and pray for their salvation. Why would Christians resort to attack, to dishonor and disrespect?
(7) If God wants to bring about His purposes for you, for the awakening of the Church, and for the glorious display of His character, we should welcome that, not only when it comes as we think it should, but whenever it comes.
You can certainly disagree with leaders. You can oppose what they teach and stand for. You can debate and vote against an elected official, but let us follow the call of the Gospel in the way we love all people and honor the President. I pray the Church in America will stand for truth these next four years … and will do it with amazing grace!
For the Love of the Church,