A few years ago, President Obama came on national TV and announced an executive action shielding nearly five million illegal immigrants from deportation, made up largely of the parents of children born here as well as children who entered illegally with their parents. The implications of such an act, whether economic or otherwise, are substantial, and opinions on both sides of the political spectrums began to pour in, people claiming a lack of presidential authority to do such a thing on one side and others stating the necessity of it on the other.
Now, this is not obviously not the right forum to have those type of arguments (that’s what Facebook is for, after all). Rather, I want to discuss the attitude that some have had towards this type of event. Immediately after President Obama made his speech, Twitter and Facebook became alive with accusations, not directed towards the action itself, but towards the President, calling him words like “dictator,” “emperor,” and “tyrant.” That type of response is inevitable; anyone that dabbles in politics is going to get called all sorts of less-than-flattering names. But what is upsetting is not the fact that regular people are stating things like that, but Christians.
There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just come out with: we as Christians need to stop deriding our government and its officials, especially in public. Regardless of which side politically you fall, there have been ample reasons over just the last twenty years to criticize all levels of government, and I have seen and heard and participated in those discussions far more than I should have. Policies that you disagree with? Fine. Wars that you don’t support? Ok. But name-calling and loud complaining about this politician and that government? Not becoming of a Christian.
In around A.D. 64, Paul the Apostle would write a letter to Timothy encouraging him to pray and entreat God “on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). The “all men” in that statement alludes to the “all men” in 2 Peter 3:9, where God desires “all men” to be saved; those words aren’t just for people we like, but especially for those we dislike,including people in power. I don’t know President Obama or Ted Cruz or Hillary Clinton or John Boehner or anyone else that resides in and around Capitol Hill, but my attitude towards them should be the same that God has – a desire to see them become faithful Christians.
Consider also Romans 13 in this discussion. There, Paul states in verse numero uno that “every person is to be subject to the governing authorities.” Simple enough, but the rationale is given immediately after: “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they will receive condemnation upon themselves.” In short, resist the powers that are in authority over you, and resist God (Eph. 6:5-8). Makes the innocent political water-cooler banter seem a little less innocent, huh?
And it’s not as if Paul was writing these during a time of spiritual and political utopia either. Literally, within a few short years of Paul writing this, the great persecution of Nero would take place, followed by the great persecution of Domitian, then Trajan, then Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Maximinus, etc. Point is, Paul was not advocating Christians to live peaceful lives and pray for rulers when it was peacetime; he advocated prayer and submission during a period when it was vastly unpopular and nearly impossible to comprehend. To put it in perspective, we live in a time where being a Christian is actually encouraged, and Christians are free to go and live and worship wherever they want, for the most part. We don’t know if this kind of freedom will always be available to us, but it is right now, and as for right now, we have it so incredibly good. We have to ask ourselves then, if we’re complaining about the state of things now, what are we going to do when they start kicking in our doors?
Christian Democrats will probably read this and think, “Bingo, stop talking about Obama,” and christian Republicans will most likely grumble (no telling what christian Libertarians will do). But I would encourage all of us to have the same mindset no matter who’s in office. In a few years, the roles will most likely be switched, and then a few years later they’ll switch again, but the one thing that should remain constant is our loyalty to the powers that be, no matter how corrupt or tyrannical we personally believe them to be.