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Giving respect, honor to leaders

Suppose the apostle Paul were living in America today. If he had just witnessed the swearing-in of a new president and heard Christ’s followers discuss — and some dismiss — their new leader with disparaging words, what would he think?
Perhaps he would write a letter — the kind he wrote to Titus or the church in Rome. Maybe he would remind us of what he had written in Romans regarding the importance of submitting to and honoring those placed in authority.
In light of the recent presidential inauguration, we challenge church members in the United States to live out Scripture in our attitude, speech and behavior.
While we don’t claim to speak for Paul, nor do we wish to focus on one political party over another or any other political issue, we do embrace the teachings of Jesus regarding a Christian’s attitude toward civil government and all people.
 With this new president coming to office, an African-American president, there has never been a more opportune time to examine our hearts, move toward a deeper sensitivity of race and rid ourselves of stereotypes, prejudice and all manner of unfair barriers that polarize our communities. We can and must show through our churches that God loves people of all races, all ages and all social statuses, and so do we.
Romans 13:7 and 1 Timothy 2:1-4 teach that governmental leaders are ordained of God and worthy of our respect. We show respect not because the person in government is one we necessarily voted for, or one whose race matches our own, or with whose public policy we agree, but because they are ordained by God.
At times we even wonder how that can be, but we know this is what God wants. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we see examples of how God uses all types of leaders to bring about his ultimate will.
Let’s lift up our leaders in prayer and respect them, but we should not look to them to solve all our individual or national problems.
In reality, striving for an unbiased attitude, equality and justice is essential to a Christian understanding of life, as Peter taught when he wrote “show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (I Peter 2:17.)
As Christians we are transitory citizens of this world and thus often fail to see racial reconciliation and social justice as matters of utmost importance to Christians.
We’ve all heard prejudicial and extreme statements about individuals and groups many times, and often those impact our thinking more than we realize. Do we put more value in the opinions of pundits than we do in the Holy Spirit?
Jesus never denigrated the civil authorities of his day. In fact, he encouraged his disciples to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” Transformed hearts and lives will lead us to honor Christ’s example and obey his teachings:
At this “defining historical moment,” may we walk this journey together:
• Let us determine to internalize God’s word into every aspect of our lives.
• Let us respect our leaders and renew our commitment to pray for them daily.
• Let us love our brothers and sisters, recognizing and striving to understand differences.
• Let us reject all excuses that undermine our Christian calling. It’s time to quit justifying our prejudices by where or how we were reared.
• Let us become passionate to know others’ struggles and trials and joys, share fellowship meals and develop genuine friendships based on common faith instead of skin color or status.
In 2009, our challenge as Christians in America is to return to those teachings, to truly learn and model the kind of respect for others God wants.
As new officials enter office, let’s live out the Christian ideal of respect and honor toward divinely ordained rulers, and by such give glory to God.

  • Feedback
    Like Paul we have dual citizenship and he had no qualm in challenging his unjust imprisonment under Roman law, being a Roman by birth. Achieving a political office alone does not make one honorable. Better that we look at actions and attitudes and “Give honor where honor is due”.
    Susan Cronk
    Maryville church of Christ
    Maryville, MO
    July, 20 2009

    Please remember that not ALL public leaders are ordained of God. It is most obvious from a study of history that some (maybe many) are ordained of Satan.
    I consistantly see my fellow brothers and sisters advocating socialism in their lives by how they conduct their daily affairs as well as how they vote. A cursory study will show that such a system is evil.
    May God help this generation,
    Jim Brown
    Salt Lake City
    Murray Park church
    May, 15 2009

    Re. Giving Respect to Leaders, I was rather surprised at the article. I don’t believe the opposition to the president and his party is due to racial differences. It is the differences in values and in beliefs regarding our constitution. I voted for a black man, Alan Keyes, in the primary when George H. Bush ran for his 2nd term. Mr. Keyes is an honorable man and I would definitely vote for him for president. I am pro-life and do not believe Christ would have condoned abortion. I want the consitution honored. I do not want to live in a communist run state. That is where we are headed. Certainly, I do believe Christians are to be respectful of all people, and we can disagree in a Christ-like manner. We are to pray for our leaders and pay taxes. We also have the right to protest taxes that are too high and reckless spending of government officials. It’s not about race, it’s all about values, freedom, and personal responsibility.
    Lawana Perrault
    Houston, TX
    Church of Christ in Jersey Village
    April, 22 2009

Filed under: Editorial Staff Reports

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