Today’s Reading: 1 Timothy 2
I want to help you get involved in politics.
I knew that would get your attention. When it comes to being a Republican or a Democrat, let’s be careful before labeling ourselves. I am of the school of C. S. Lewis, who said these important words about politics: “He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself.”
Our heart, emotions, and energies first belong to God. We must be careful of giving these to a candidate to stay in office or to get one in office and give God less. So what part do we play as Christians in politics? There is a part we play, according to Paul, and its outcome is best for us:
“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live. He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4, MSG)
Wow! Our involvement is first on our knees.
I am grateful we have Christians in government. I am grateful we have chaplains in Congress. I am thankful we have men and women fighting for godly principles. But the best way we unify the church is not around a candidate but around a king—the King. The way we unify the church politically is by getting the church to pray. And notice, Paul was saying for those in office not for those to beat those who are in office. Whether or not we agree with their politics or policies, our responsibility is to pray for our leaders in local, in state, and even in the White House and on Capitol hill.
Paul says, “This is the way God wants us to live.” What is our prayer? We are first to pray that they rule well. And if they don’t, then pray more. The Passion Translation says it like this: “Pray for every political leader and representative, so that we would be able to live tranquil, undisturbed lives, as we worship the awe-inspiring God with pure hearts. It is pleasing to our Savior-God to pray for them” (verses 2-3).
We pray for them “so that we would be able to live tranquil, undisturbed lives as we worship God.” We are praying for our leaders so our lives can find peace and quiet instead of contention and division. Our government may be in the condition it’s in because of the condition of prayer in the church. Call a prayer meeting for your church to pray for your local, state, and national leaders and see how many show up. That may be the reason we are in trouble—not because of a Republican president or a Democrat Congress or vice versa, but because of a non-praying church.
A prayerless church messes up our government more than the government messes up the government. Don’t dismiss this. Why is this country everything but quiet when it comes to the political landscape? Because this prayer has not been answered; because this prayer has not been offered. The part we play in politics is to pray for our leaders—not the leaders we wish were there and not just the leaders we agree with. Let’s for a moment remove the adjectives before the word Christian. There is no such thing as a Republican Christian or a Democrat Christian or an Independent Christian or a Libertarian Christian, we are Christians! Which means we pray regardless of the election and its outcome.
Why do we pray for our leaders? Paul says pray for this outcome: “This is the way our Savior God wants us to live. He wants not only us but everyone saved” (verses 3-4, MSG). The “everyone” here are the politicians. We pray for them two ways—that they would rule well and that they would become Christ-followers. That must be how we as Christians are first involved in politics. Anything else is a distraction and a disturbance. As W. Ian Thomas says, “Make sure it is God’s trumpet you are blowing—if it’s only yours, it won’t wake the dead; it will simply disturb the neighbours.”
I want to wake the dead in DC. I want them to find Jesus.
Many years ago, government officials in The Hague invited Van Courtonne, a famous preacher in Paris, to preach in the State Church chapel. He agreed under the condition that all the government officials had to attend. They agreed, so he went and preached on “The Ethiopian” in Acts 8. Remember the Ethiopian eunuch was a government official on assignment. His sermon contained four points about the Ethiopian government official.
Remember the story? The Ethiopian had just visited Jerusalem and left with a scroll from Isaiah 53. Philip came alongside his chariot and explained what the man was reading. The government official became a Christian and ordered the chariot to stop and be baptized.
Now, here were Van Courtonne’s points:
1. The Ethiopian was a government official who read the Bible: something rare.
2. He was a government official who acknowledged his ignorance: something rarer still.
3. He was a government official who asked a lesser person for instruction: something extremely rare.
4. He was a government official who got saved: the rarest thing of all.
Let’s get involved in politics. So let’s get on our knees and pray.