Summary: An examination of the call for us to pray for our political leaders as well as some of the reasons that we usually fail to fulfill that obligation.
THREE WAYS WE INTERACT WITH OUR POLITICAL LEADERS:
1. We complain about them.
- Today this is our default position. Everyone is terrible, everything is terrible. This one’s a liar, that one’s a thief. This one is kicking puppies, that one hates babies.
- And so we complain.
2. We ignore them.
- A second position is to just tune out from the whole political circus. We say, “A pox on all your houses” and turn on Wheel of Fortune.
3. We fawn over them.
- Less often, but occasionally, we get all worked up over someone and give them all the credit in the world.
- A Democratic example would be Obama when he was running for president in 2008. Many believed he would be a transformative figure. Much hope was put on him.
- A Republican example would be Reagan. Even all these years later, the Gipper is regularly invoked in G.O.P. debates as the standard.
- The problem with each of those three things:
1. Complaining is not constructive.
- It is certainly sometimes necessary, but when that’s all we do, that’s not helpful.
- We’re not doing anything to help further the advancement of our country.
- One of the hard things about being a leader: there are often no easy answers.
- Usually all the easy decisions are made at the lower levels.
- Most of us have seen the side-by-side pictures of a new president compared to the picture a few years in. The rapid graying is always striking.
- I read an article that talked about how Obama had set lunches just because of decision fatigue and not wanting to have another decision to make.
- Plus, there are issues with dramatically different approaches to understanding and solving.
- Plus, there are issues with clear answers but those answers are painful and so people don’t want. (See: austerity in Europe.)
2. It’s a tough job and they need our support.
- Some tune out the whole political circus, but these leaders need our support and prayers.
3. They are not perfect and need guidance.
- Any human is inevitably going to disappoint and be unable to measure up to unreachable goals.
- Cf. to the statement I heard from Pastor Daryl, who said that he was not accountable to anyone in the church.
TWO MISTAKES CHRISTIANS HAVE BEEN MAKING ON POLITICS:
1. Like many Americans, we seem more put partisan victories over national success.
- It’s a troubling trend today that we’ve become so bitterly partisan that many rejoice at problems that our country faces. Why? Because that problem has been caused by the failure of their political enemy.
- We have been as culpable on this as most in our society. We have eagerly engaged in bitter partisan bickering and finger-pointing. We have sorely lacked in showing love to those we deem our political enemies. We have engaged in culture war believing that we are under no obligation to behave in Christlike ways when it comes to politics. We have come to believe that in politics it’s acceptable to try to accomplish what we consider a Christian end by non-Christian means.
- We need a reminder that we are Americans before we are Democrats or Republicans.
- We need to hope and desire for our country to move forward, even if some of the credit goes to someone we don’t like politically.
2. We have been willing participants in creating the dark political culture we currently endure.
- The current state of political discourse in our country is uglier and darker than I can remember at any other time in my life. There is precious little discussion; there is much yelling and finger-pointing.
- We have not tried much to shine light, to be civil, to love our enemies.
- We’re supposed to stand out, to be different. Sadly, Christian participation in politics bears no meaningful distinction from the rest of the culture’s.
FOUR THINGS TO PRAY FOR OUR LEADERS:
- Our verse for this message is 1 Timothy 2:2. It tells us that we should pray for our political leaders. We’ve talked about how many other things we do, but we rarely pray for them. The rare exception is a special church service around the Fourth of July.
- Well, if we’re supposed to pray for them, what are we supposed to be praying?
1. Personal safety.
- We need to be praying for the personal safety of our leaders. We live in an age of terrorism and mass shootings.
- I have been saddened to see a number of statements over the past decade by people (some of whom were claiming to be Christians) who have basically said that it wouldn’t be a bad thing if a particular president, governor, or other official were assassinated. That is atrocious and shameful.