Read 1 Timothy 2:1-8
These days, when it comes to how we engage in the politics of our nation and how we treat our civil authorities, it could probably be said of most of us: “Thou dost protest too much…and pray too little.”
I know, protesting can seem like it’s more fun. And we can be so witty and clever doing it – especially from a keyboard. It may even seem to be more noble to speak out against all the injustices and anti-thises and anti-thats. The fake thises and the fake thats.
But more than that – and I mean much more – we should be pray-ers. I know, I know, we tend to think that’s not enough. But to cast doubt on the power of prayer betrays our conviction about the power of God.
As Christians, we seek the welfare of everyone. That’s why Paul urges us to pray (v. 1). It brings God into the equation. It acknowledges His rightful place and His superior priorities.
And, because we seek the welfare of everyone, our prayers should include our leaders – even those we don’t like, didn’t vote for, disagree with, and…who may even hate Christ and the Christian faith that means everything to us (2:1–2). And I don’t think Paul meant we should pray for lightning to consume them from the sky or for the earth to open and swallow them up. He meant we should pray for their wellbeing, and that He would grant them wisdom. Boy, don’t we need that these days.
But why? Why pray?
Why opt for prayer over protest? Why intercession over denunciation? Ready for the list? It’s short, but helpful (vv. 2-5):
(1) Prayer for our leaders is good. That’s a lot better than the alternative.
(2) It pleases God. That should be our goal. We should want that.
(3) So that we can live quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and holiness. In other words, we need to pray so that the work of our civil authorities doesn’t ultimately hinder the work of the Church.
(4) It partners with God in the salvation of men and women. After all, that’s why Jesus came. And, don’t forget this, because it might be important for your perspective – Jesus’ government crucified Him.
Politics won’t mediate. Power won’t mediate. Position won’t mediate. Prestige won’t mediate. Just like us, our leaders will only find false hope in these things. And since we seek the welfare of everyone, it’s our obligation… let me say that again. No, maybe I’ll spell it out: O.B.L.I.G.A.T.I.O.N. It’s our obligation to bring them before the one and only Mediator for their souls and ours, Jesus Christ (5-6).
But as we pray that our leaders get right with God, we had better be right with God (v.8). And when it comes to praying for political leaders, it’s always worth a second glance at our hearts. And maybe one more after that, just for good measure. You know what you’re looking for: bitterness, anger, disrespect, dishonor…pretty much “dissing” in general.
You might need to repent of a tweet, a post, a “like,” a comment. You know, something bold or brash or in poor taste that you were confident about behind your keyboard or phone screen but forgot that the Mediator was looking over your shoulder…and cringing.
So, what’s my primary Christian civic responsibility?
Really, right now.