Saturday, April 21, 2018

Pray for Those in Authority

Over and over lately I keep hearing people remind me that I have to support our current president, because the Bible says so. They post memes on Facebook and Instagram telling me that the Bible says to obey all authorities, and pray for those in power. And it seems as if no matter what Trump does, whatever prejudice or hatefulness or stupidity comes out of his mouth, through his Twitter feed, or across his desk, I'm supposed to support it and find some reason to rationalize it, because the Bible says so.

The bigger issue is that I'm starting to think that some of these people really do support the prejudice and hatefulness and stupidity, and this whole "Bible says so" thing is just the cover story.

It's ironic to me that we love stories of rebellion against unjust and corrupt governments in the Bible, but when they happen in real life, against our party or our elected official, we shake our fingers and call the rebels unChristian. We love to hear the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refusing to bow down to idols set up by a tyrant, but we excoriate men for refusing to salute the American flag. We celebrate Nathan pointing his finger in the face of King David, exposing his wickedness and telling him, "You are the man," but we either blast or unfriend anyone who dares to call Trump's lack of morals into question. We rally behind young David as he gathers forces to fight against King Saul, only stopping short of killing him in ambush, but my Facebook feed is full of so-called Christians calling down hate and wishing harm to a bunch of teenagers daring to gather together to ask for a safer country. Just imagine what Christ would think about the members of his church persecuting a young person asking for peace and safety, just a couple of months after he or she watched his friends being gunned down while running for their lives. Does that sound like the kind of thing that should happen among God's people? Does it even sound like the kind of thing that should happen among Americans?

The truth is, we are very selective about how we apply the doctrine of obeying the authorities. We glorify the men who dumped crate after crate of tea into the Boston Harbor to protest the British government, but we encourage people to run over protestors with trucks if they block streets in a peaceful, if inconvenient, protest.

One of my favorite passages about Jesus is in Luke 13:31-35. Jesus had been healing and preaching on his way to Jerusalem, staying in one spot for two or three days before moving on. The Pharisees told him to stop, to go hide somewhere, because Herod wanted to kill him. Instead of showing fear, instead of blindly obeying Herod's authority, and instead of praying for him, Jesus said, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.'" It's worth noting that this was after Herod had already had Jesus' cousin John imprisoned and ultimately beheaded, so Jesus definitely knew what he was capable of. Still, Jesus not only defies the authority figure, but broadcasts his location for the next three days, and dares Herod to do something about it. He even calls Herod a fox, which did not have the positive connotation that it does today in our culture.

For the record, I am praying for President Trump. I pray several things in connection with him. First of all, I pray that God's will be done in America, just like I pray for God's will in my personal life, because I know that whatever the outcome, His will is perfection. After that I make my petitions. I petition God to move in the president's heart to make a radical change of spirit, to rescue him from his own sin and stupidity and darkness, and repent, publicly, of his ways and embrace goodness and wisdom. Failing that, I pray that those around him, his cabinet, Congress, the Supreme Court, would all make it their business to break from party loyalty and show some loyalty to righteousness and reason for a change. I pray that they would block his harmful and foolish policies and edicts, that they would condemn his sins and faults, and praise his achievements and good works, instead of the other way around. I pray this for myself, for my family, for the families that his policies might hurt, and for the president himself, as well. I pray that, for his own sake as well as ours, that he doesn't go down in history as the president who started World War III, or recreated apartheid in America, or otherwise destroyed the lives of the people he was elected to protect. And failing all of that, I pray that God removes him from office in the most peaceful way possible.

But no, I don't support the president. I don't support the racist and prejudiced things he says and the harmful policies that he promotes, his attacks on the media and anyone who speaks out against him, or his immoral lifestyle, whether we're talking about ten years ago or this week. Not only do I refuse to support such a man, I condemn his words and actions as unrighteous and dangerous. Furthermore, I don't want to hear about any other president that he was supposedly better, smarter, or more Christian than. Even a "baby Christian" should know that the life of a believer is not about trying to be just a little bit less sinful and repulsive than the next guy. Besides, I can only deal with one president at a time, and so should everyone else.

The result of all this "support" has been devastating to the church of Christ in America. While disciples are being made around the world, in the harshest, poorest, and most dangerous situations, American Christians are having a hard time defining what a lie is, or what constitutes adultery, or who wins the horseshoe game of getting as close as possible to outright depravity without getting caught. The word "evangelical" has become synonymous with "hypocrite" in the minds of many Americans and people around the world. Michael Steele, a man who led the Republican party to unbelievable victory in 2009 and 2010 before being told recently that he was only elected because he is Black, put it best when he said, "I have a very simple admonition at this point: Just shut the hell up and don’t ever preach to me about anything ever again. I don’t want to hear it, ... After telling me how to live my life, who to love, what to believe, what not to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you want to sit back and the prostitutes don't matter? The grabbing the you-know-what doesn't matter? The outright behavior and lies don't matter? Just shut up." I think a lot of Americans are looking at the evangelical or Christian support for President Trump and thinking exactly that. And they're right. If we can only condemn immorality, racism, and ignorance in our enemies, and either overlook, rationalize, or "support" them in our allies, then we really are hypocrites, and the Scriptures are just another weapon we use against others.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate wholeheartedly with your postion as I've found myself wondering the same thing. You wrote it far more eloquently than I could have.