“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions. That we may live a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” -ITim. 2:1-2
Did you catch that? Not only are we supposed to pray for all people and the leaders over us, but we are to be thankful for them. What is even more shocking is when you consider the audience Paul is writing this letter to.Especially in relation to political leaders.
Nero, one of the most wicked and rulers of all time, is on the throne in Rome. This is the man who burned down the city of Rome and played his lire singing like a mad man as he watched it burn. This is a man who killed his own mother, and tried to annihilate Christians and Jews. This is a time of persecution for the church where friends and family members are being slaughtered for the gospel. Paul’s timely encouragement is not one of outrage or calling for action. Instead he tells them how to hold their hearts, in the midst of proclaiming the only thing that can save them; the Gospel of a coming Kingdom.
When I look at the political climate in the U.S. I see a bleak future. I see the bad decisions of the last 4 administrations. I see the bad decisions of the last 10 sessions of Congress and Senate. I see a government embracing moral relativity, and human idealism paving the way for the greedy side of capitalism to wreck our nation. I see both sides of the aisle with the Tea Party-ers and Libertarian’s in the middle all pointing the finger at each other wanting change that can only happen at the hands of a Christ- Jesus Christ. All the while the Church finds itself some where in the middle of the ruckus watering down the gospel trying to sway political and moral change instead of presenting the transforming power of the Cross.
This is where the instructions from Paul become necessary. Having laws changed to uphold the morality of Christianity means nothing if the people do not embrace Jesus and His work on the cross. Being bitter at unsaved leaders who do not act according to scripture only causes our hearts to grow in bitterness toward them. Bitterness being the primary thing that drives our own hearts away from Christ and His grace. (Heb 12)
The wisdom of I Timothy 2:1-2 is that in the midst of an ungodly, and wicked world we can keep our heart pure by thanking God for our leaders, and sincerely praying for them with the same fervor we would pray for a family member who has rejected Christ. By praying for leaders, like President Obama we begin to see him through the lens of Jesus: a weak and broken vessel like you or me who is in need the transforming and saving grace of Jesus.
Prayer doesn’t mean we accept his policies, or approve of his moral character, it just means that we position our hearts to fulfill the 2nd commandment in every area. (Love your neighbor as your self) It means we speak well of him. It means that in the same way we would’t want to slander our co-workers or family members, we don’t want to slander our President. It means we bless him, and pray the living God captures his heart. As it’s the living God that raised him up to be our leader.
This is why I’m thankful for President Barack Obama, and I pray that he uses the office given him for righteousness. Because after all it’s not me or you he answers to but Jesus seated on the eternal judgment seat. Believe me, he needs all the prayer and blessing he can get.