Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Respecting Authority

I don't talk politics very often. If I were completely honest, I'd say I don't talk about them because I don't understand a lot of it. I know the gist of it all and I do my best to stay informed. But it doesn't consume me. I'm not an activist in the political arena but I take my responsibilities as a voting American very seriously and do my very best as a busy wife and mother to make informed choices and vote according to my morals and values. But talking politics has never been one of my favorite pastimes and usually I avoid the subject out of a desire to keep unity. 
That said, I have something that has been brewing in my heart that I feel I must say.  I see emails, posts of disrespect and jabbings at our President on social networking sites and even hear people put him down, roll their eyes and become very judgmental of what he is doing in social settings. I think that there is a feeling in the air that if you are an "Evangelical", you have to slander President Obama and put him down. I've even heard rumors in circles that he could be the Anti-Christ. Could we honestly be more disrespectful that we are? I mean, I don't agree with all he stands for, but he is our President and will be now for another four years. He's a human being whom God created and appointed to lead our country at the present time. God has His reasons, and I trust that He is in control.

I read what the Bible, our life-giving, truth-giving, personal letter from our Father in Heaven had to say about the subject. Please, take time to read this and let it sink into your heart, asking the Lord to break down any prejudice, agendas or preconceived notions....

Romans 13:1-2 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and will be punished. 

Titus 3:1-2 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.

1 Peter 2:13-14 For the LORD's sake, respect all human authority - whether the king as head of state, or the officers he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

I will stop there, but want to express, also that if you look at the stories of the great leaders of the Bible - Joseph, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel, will find that every single one of them respected and submitted to the authority that was above them. Because of their submission and humble attitude, they found favor in the sight of not only the kings and leaders, but in the sight of God and all without compromising their values and morals. 

All this does not mean that we are to disobey God in situations where the law of man may conflict with the law of God (Acts 4:18-20; 5:40) but we are told to continue to respect government authority—even when those in positions of authority have abused their offices.

Could it be that we have it all wrong? Can we take a minute and examine ourselves? Please? For the sake of unity not only in our churches but in our communities and our country? Our hate and unloving jabs at our government are doing us more harm than good. It seems very divisive and contradictory to what we, as believers, are supposed to be about.

We cannot ever forget that Jesus had His harshest words for the Pharisees (Religious people), not the "sinners". For instance, He tells the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23 "What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens but you ignore the more important aspects of the law - justice, mercy and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things."

Could it be that in our quest to do the right thing, we have sidestepped an even more important thing? Are we showing mercy to those we oppose? Are we being loving in our approach? Gentle? Humble? Patient? Why are we so surprised when people sin and make wrong choices? Doesn't Jesus tell us specifically in Matthew 15:19 that "from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander?" Maybe instead of putting people down and being angry, we could show mercy and faith in our God and pray for them? We cannot forget whom our battle is against (Ephesians 6) here - and it's not these people in leadership!

I believe we tend to focus so much on what others are doing wrong and don't spend enough time and energy focusing on and living out what we know is right. We spend so much time fighting with people and instead, maybe we should be fighting for them, on our knees in prayer?

I pray God will forgive me for my attitude toward my leaders at times. I thank Him for showing me the Scriptures and setting me straight. I urge you from the bottom of my heart - let's all respect and submit to our government and pray for our leaders, not put them down and disrespect them - for the LORD's sake.

Now maybe you can see why I don't talk politics much. (smile)

Daniel 4:32.....The Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone He chooses.


Liz said...

I thank you Leslie, you gracefully put together my exact thoughts as well...much better than I could! I pray the same...and I'm sharing this. God bless!

Leslie Nease said...

Thanks, Liz. :) God bless you, too!

Elliott Blackwell said...

I completely agree. And I can't help but wonder how different our country might be if we,as Christians, stopped complaining about our leaders so much and started praying for them.
Love you on His Radio!

Leslie Nease said...

Thanks so much Elliott! I love working at His Radio - what a blessing to spend my mornings with you all.

bratzmom247 said...

Thank you for putting me in my place. Hope you don't mind me using this blog post as part of our youth lesson tonight.

Leslie Nease said...

Of course you may use it! And by the way, God put me in my place first...I just shared what He showed me. :)

Magdalena said...

While I agree with you that it is not our place to offend the DIGNITY of any of God's children (including Obama) I ask you to use caution when you advise Christians in your interpretation of the the verse to "Submit to the government and its officials."

We will be judged on who wesubmit ourslevs to.

The German people did submit to its gov't in the 1940's and as a result millions of Jews were murdered.

Americans submit with apathy to our abortion laws on a daily basis and the result is the deah of 40 million since the inception of Roe v Wade.

We must NOT submit to our government and its officials when they act contrary to God's laws. We must RESIST.

If you hear criticism and anger against Obama perhaps it is because people recognize his unjust ways and are simply speaking up- not against his dignity as a person or but against his unjust laws.

Come August 2013, Catholics will lose their religious freedom when we refuse to pay for and offer sterilization, contraceotion or abortifacients in the HHS mandate in Obamacare. Mark my words. Catholic hospitals will be forced to close down and bishops, priests and clergy will be arrested because theycannot submit to a governemen's laws over God's laws.

If any governemnt is acting immorally it is our DUTY to speak against it AND to speak up against its officials. This isn't slander.

If Obama is behaving immorally, we must say so. Is Obama an evil man? Only God knows. But, forgive me, Obama IS an evil RULER. I say that because he stands for evil things.

He voted that babies born alive from botched abortions would be left to die when he voted against the born-alive act.

A quote from the CCC says it perfectly;

authority is legitimate “only when it seeks the common good of the group . . . and if it employs morally licit means to attain it.” Such “common good” is also the standard for an acceptable political form: “Regimes whose nature is contrary to the natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons cannot achieve the common good of the nations on which they have been imposed.” (no. 1901) The modern Catechism also recognizes the non-intervention of governments into other divinely mandated spheres: “It is preferable that each power be balanced by other powers and by other spheres of responsibility which keep it within proper bounds.” (no. 1904)

Do you see how Obama has abused his power by bypassing Congress and refusing to balance his power or how he is interfering with relligious freedom?

My friend, I IMPLORE you to get more involved in politics. It is a spiritual warfare that is being waged.

Did God appoint Obama? Who knows but I do know he lifted his blessing from Israel when she became a stiff-necked people and they suffered under evil rulers.

Please, I reiterate, educate yourself on who Obama is and what he stands for and you will understand that it is not slander what people say about him.

Must we pray for him? YES! But we must also speak up. ALWAYS

Leslie Nease said...

Magdalena, thank you so much for the time you took to put together such a well-thought out and insightful response to my blog! I do appreciate what you are saying, but I must say that I think you missed the tone of my note.

I clearly said that when the authority goes against God’s authority, we must NOT follow. But when it comes to being cruel, rude and obnoxious in our approach we do ourselves a great disservice and we go against what the Scriptures say for us to do.

Jesus did not agree with Caesar’s rule, yet He clearly paid His taxes. David did not agree with the rule of Saul, but when given the opportunity to kill him, he withheld and even confessed that he had cut his garment while he slept. Esther did not agree with Xerxes’ rule, but was kind and gentle in her approach and through the favor she was shown, was able to set her people free! Nehemiah was shown favor because of his respect and steadfast faith. There is one example after another of the people of God who submitted to evil leaders, but did not compromise in the Bible.

Jesus told us that we will be brought before the rulers and that it will be an opportunity for us to tell the rulers and unbelievers about Jesus. This is our opportunity to show the love of Christ, to be as gentle as doves and as shrewd as serpents. Peter told us to be ready with an answer when asked about the reason for our hope, but to answer with gentleness and respect. We are fighting with these people but we are missing the point. The battle is bigger than that and our weapons are not earthly ones.

It is not our time to argue or to slander (which is absolutely being done by many folks). This is our opportunity to come together and shine His light, not fight fire with fire. We can find favor and God can do amazing things through us, if we love and stand for truth with gentleness and respect. It is possible.

So, what I’m saying is I agree, we must NEVER go along with rule that is in opposition to God’s rule. But the way we go about it doesn’t have to be the way the world does. We are different.

Blessings to you, and thank you again for your response. It was thought-provoking and gave me a lot to think about. By the way, you’re right, I don’t know much about politics…but I do know what Obama stands for and do not agree with most of his positions, as I stated that in my blog. I do know a lot more about biblical issues than political ones, but I think that’s probably a good thing. ☺

Magdalena said...

I loved your response to me.I tried to reply under your reply but it wouldnt work.
In these days that seem bleak an dreary because we have no leadership, your examples reminded me about the martyrs who submitted (not to evil leaders) but to God even unto death. If thats the submission you're talking about then I think we are both agreeing. (Although, in my hot-headed Latina way I see myself more as a Peter who would cut off the ear of a soldier first.)
I recommend that new movie with Andy Garcia called For Greater Glory (redbox has it). Its the true story about the 1920's in Mexico when President Calle tried to abolish christianity in the name of progress. The people fought back and called themselves Los Cristeros (the Christ-people) One was a 14 year old boy who was very brave and was martyred. I loved it, but you will cry.
Also, I was at the Unveiled retreat with my girls this past weekend and I met you. I told you we were both pregnant in 2000 and that I have 5 children. I'm sure you talked to a lot of people so no worries if you dont remember. It was a FANTASTIC talk you gave. (loved the zumba)

Leslie Nease said...

Yes, I do remember you! You were very sweet. I truly loved every moment at Unveiled - what a wonderful time in Jesus we had! :)

Yes, our ultimate submission is God alone. Submission to leadership is secondary in contrast. You totally get me! (smile)

Have a wonderful day, my friend. And I mean it sincerely when I say I do appreciate you taking the time to respond to the blog - it was good to be able to post that clarity.

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