After 12 hours of seeing responses to the State Of The Union, I feel the need to let the cat out of the bag regarding something…
I’m a follower of Jesus. That means I’m part of what the western world calls Evangelical Christianity. I’m a fiscal conservative. I’m pro-life. I believe in a robust military and am a supporter of free-market capitalism. I believe in limited and accountable welfare, and if that wasn’t enough to buy a willing ear, I’m also a supporter of the second amendment. And here’s the crazy part…I still LOVE President Barack Obama.
See the very first thing I told you isn’t simply first, but it’s all-encompassing. I am a follower of Jesus. That means I desire to follow the teachings of Jesus and his Church in every area of my life. Yes, believe it or not, even in the way I approach political ideologies AND the way I converse with and speak about those who seek to represent or lead me in state and federal government.
This means I am seeking to follow the teachings of Jesus even when discussing someone who holds political office that I may or may not agree with regarding policy.
I don’t have a faith AND an approach to politics. I have a faith that AFFECTS my approach to politics. And my faith tells me that above all else, the most important thing I can do…is LOVE.
The practical way that love is expressed can be found in the thirteenth chapter of Corinthians. Love is patient…it is kind. It does not envy…nor is it proud. It doesn’t boast. It doesn’t dishonor others, and isn’t self-seeking. It isn’t easily angered. I can go on but I digress…
See, I’m called to love my fellow believers, AND to love my enemies. I think that means I’m called to love EVERYONE…yes, even (or especially) our President…
Based on 1 Corinthians, I’m called to be “patient” with our President. I’m called to be “kind” to our President. I’m called to avoid “pride” when thinking of my differing opinions from our President. I’m called to not boast when I believe our President has made a decision that has led to a negative outcome. I’m called to HONOR our President. (We’ll get to that in a moment…) And I’m called to be slow to anger with our President.
All because I’m called…above all else…to LOVE our President. Because my allegiance to the teachings of my savior supersedes the allegiance to my political affiliation.
But to be honest…lately I feel like I’m in the minority. I feel like those who bear the name of Jesus have allowed their party affiliation to overshadow their soul transformation. And it’s sad. To see those bearing the name of Jesus calling our President names like evil, liar, subhuman, etc…is disheartening to say the least…because I’m CONVINCED we can disagree with someone without being dishonorable.
The problem we currently face though, is it seems that many believers don’t mind dishonoring our current president. Therein lies the problem.
Whether you like his decisions or not, we are called in the New Testament to HONOR those in authority over us. Some would argue that doesn’t apply to someone making decisions they so vehemently and morally oppose. But I would point your attention to 1 Peter 2:17:
“Honor everyone…love the brotherhood…fear God…and honor the emperor.”
Do you know who the emperor was Peter was referring to? That would be a man by the name of Nero…one of the most evil and wicked tyrants in human history. This guy not only MURDERED & MUTILATED countless innocent believers…he killed his own MOM.
And Peter instructs believers to HONOR even him. Why? Because the world takes notice when we respond to those we disagree with honor, because it’s so counter-reactive to how the rest of the world responds. The early church spread like wildfire not because of their evangelistic acumen, but because of how they cared for, loved, and honored those who persecuted them. And people wanted the ability to live like that. People WANTED what the early church had…and I am saddened to think that after watching the vitriolic responses of believers to the SOTU, that is probably far from accurate today.
So how should we as believers who LOVE our country and want what’s best for it respond to those authorities we disagree with? I can offer three appropriate responses.
PRAY: Pour your heart and concern over our nation and it’s leadership out to God. If He’s the one who allows those in authority to be there (Romans 13:1), then the BEST place to take our grievances is to Him. That should be our first, and right response.
DISAGREE…WITHOUT DISHONORING: Voice your concerns over issues…not people. If you disagree with the policies of our current administration, voice those, and attempt to do something about them. I’m not asking you to set aside your convictions. In fact quite the contrary. But don’t drag someone’s heart, character, and integrity through the mud in the process, no matter how much you question them internally. Because one of the GREATEST detractors to real issues are personal jabs. Let’s face our issues head on, with boldness and conviction, but maintain our obligation to honor those in authority over us.
FINALLY, LOVE: Be patient and understanding with our President. Speak kindly of our President. Live out ALL the virtues of LOVE found in 1 Corinthians 13. Because no matter how bad you may disagree with the president, if Jesus said to love your brothers…and your enemies, that certainly includes the President. And we’re told exactly how to do that.
Look, at the end of the day…you won’t be held accountable for the decisions of this administration. But you will be held accountable for how you respond to those decisions. And ultimately, how we respond…THIS is how we change the world.