1 Timothy 2: 1-2 I urge then that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving (giving of thanks) be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we (the people of God) may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”
Recently, I seem to have acquired some new found zeal for contemplating the matter of leadership in Kenya (Yes, zeal to think about this issue). Now, I’m no expert on the matter of Kenya’s political leaders (perhaps that’s obvious) and I certainly don’t know enough about our history and the myriad of issues that affect leadership to offer an extensive commentary on that subject. That aside, I generally feel, as many Kenyans do, the need for better leaders; leaders who do not yield to corruption. Leaders who are upright, full of integrity, informed, committed to service etc. Basically, leaders who satisfy the definition of leadership!
Well, the desire for this kind of leadership has led to quite a bit of frustration on my part, and I have seen other Kenyans experience similar vexation as they watch parties coalesce; deals unfold between individuals; integrity cases be withdrawn; voter-registration turnout be disturbingly low; and the general drama that is surrounding politicians in the run up to March 4th 2013 (Kenya’s next general elections)
As a Christian, I’ve also had a little bit of a tug of war with God’s thoughts concerning the issues of government leaders. Quite honesty: I’ve resisted some of what He has to say.
I’ve read verses like Daniel 2:21 “He (Jesus) changes seasons; He sets up Kings and disposes them” and the beginning of Romans 3 where Paul states that there is no “authority except that which God has established” and continues to emphasize this saying “The authorities that exist have been established by God” (J Thanks, Paul).
Which means that JESUS CHRIST is “behind” the leaders we currently have.
He put them there.
At certain points in my life when I’m particularly riled up and ready for revolution- the above verses from Daniel and Romans don’t give me comfort or peace. On the contrary they…vex me. They make me feel insignificant and helpless. Why? Because not only did God “set up” this particular government. He’s got the next one covered too. Whether I vote or not, revolt or not – God will have the final say.
So if God is going to do what God is going to do – then my thinking about this whole issue is pointless, right? There’s nothing I can really do about the issue of government leadership, right?
Well… right… In a way…
Paul tells us in 1st Timothy 2: 1-2 about what God expects us to do (with regard to leaders). He urges that we pray for them, intercede for them, and make requests for them and GIVE THANKS for them!
Let’s dwell on that last one for a moment. Give thanks for our leaders: sorely imperfect as they are.
This is probably a tough call for some of us.
So, why does God expect us to be grateful?
Here are some reasons:
The hearts of kings are in the hands of the King of Kings. They are like putty in God’s hands…Or streams (proverbs 21:1) which God turns wherever He pleases. God is King over all people – including kings; presidents; senators; members of parliament etc.
So… The buck stops with Him.
While our world leaders are imperfect, we can be grateful that they are subject to a perfect God. Who is faithful to His Nature (everything he does is right); and His word.
Indeed the words of Daniel 2 should bring us comfort: He raises them up, He spares them; He allows them to do what they do (see Pharaoh; Exodus 9) and He brings them down (see Nebuchadnezzar) – all, for a purpose. And in all this, God works all the actions of leaders together for the good of His people- His Church; because we love Him and are called according to His purpose.
We can be grateful that God works even the terrible actions of national leaders for the ultimate good of his people – to make them ever-more Christ like.
Which brings me to a final thought. God gives us this command to pray, intercede and give thanks for our (everyone) and our leaders for a reason. Paul states it is – “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”
Note that holy and godly lives can only be (aspired to) by Christians because righteousness outside of Christ is just filthy rags. Christ says that we must pray and give thanks for our leaders so that we, the people of God, might live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
I believe that the we, people of God, will live quiet and peaceful lives when God changes our minds about how we ought to relate to the Government and to our leaders.
God requires that we be submitted to the government’s authority and I don’t know about you, but that can get pretty hard when they are so outlandish. What moral authority do they have that we should obey them?
Well, in the case of Kenya the answer is probably “none”. Yet submission is what God requires not because they have moral authority but because they have God-given authority. We must submit not just because our leaders require it but because our God demands it. We must submit not because of, but in spite of our leaders.
We have to keep taking our leaders before God in prayer, and in thanksgiving so that we can constantly remember the Sovereignty of the King of kings and so that He can empower us with the grace we need to be at peace with all men, and to readily submit ourselves to all the authorities that He has put in place- including the Government- because “….HE WHO REBELS AGAINST THE AUTHORITY IS REBELLING AGAINST WHAT GOD HAS INSTITUTED and those who do bring judgment on themselves” – Romans 13:1-3
So let’s submit to; pray and thank God for our leaders until March 4th 2013 – and beyond!