In less than a year Americans will head to the polls once again. At this point, it’s tough to know who is going to serve as our President from 2012-2016. I’m no political know-it-all but I can make one guarantee about the election. Regardless of who get’s elected, someone will be unhappy about it. That’s just the way politics work. There will never be a political leader that every single person accepts. As Christians, we often have good cause for being unhappy with those who become leaders. Too often the leaders of our country make decisions that stand opposed to what God has ordained. However, can we often let our feelings towards a political leader go too far?
Imagine being Paul the apostle during the first century. Talk about a corrupt government. The Jewish leaders opposed Christianity completely and persecuted anyone who called himself or herself a follower of Christ. Even the Romans would eventually turn against Christianity. If there were a time when Christians could be unhappy about the leadership in the government, the first century was it. You would almost think Paul would spend time in his letters bashing the government or mocking specific leaders who clearly stood opposed to God. That’s not what he did though. In Romans 13, Paul instead tells Christians to respect the authority of the government. He even goes on to specifically say, “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:7). Is Paul telling us that we should still honor our political leaders regardless of whether we support them? Some might argue that we only have to honor those leaders whom we feel are “due” that honor. However, is that for us to decide? We don’t get to decide whether those leaders are “due” our taxes or customs. Why should we be the ones who decide whether our leaders are due our honor?
Should we as Christians stand up for the truth? Yes. Should we seek to vote for individuals who are going to stand for what is right? Yes. Should we hold fast to God’s word regardless of who our leaders are? Absolutely! But does God give us the freedom to publicly or privately bash or slander those who have been put into positions of leadership? Not according to Romans 13.
As the political races heat up over the next year we need to be cautious. It is important that we stand up for certain issues, but when God establishes a person as a leader (Romans 13:1) we need to remember to give honor. That doesn’t mean we have to agree with them or stop fighting for the issues that are important. On the other hand, what we may think of as a simple joke or email may be dishonoring in a way that God does not approve of. We need to remember that men like Paul, Peter and even Jesus went toe-to-toe with some of the most crooked of political leaders. Never do we see any of them treat those leaders in a disrespectful way. If those men could honor their leaders during that time of great persecution, surely we can show honor to whom honor is due in our world today.