[1 Timothy 2:1-6] “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”
God’s People – Prayer More than Politics
No one is more hated, it seems, than our political leaders. And, no one is more idolized than the political leader in whom you trust. The others can do no right, and mine can do no wrong. We explain away the sins of the one for whom we plan to vote, while condemning their opponent for the same things.
This is the way of the world. Should it be the way of God’s children? Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” [John 18:36]. Should we relate to our political leaders in the same way as the unbelieving world?
Christ is Savior and His Kingdom is the one for which we wait in hope. Yet, many in His Church on earth treat the earthly nation in which they live as their true promised land and look, in four-year cycles, for an earthly savior of their choosing. But, in truth, nations come and go, and so do presidents. Scripture says, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” [Psalm 146:3].
This year is an election year, coming in November, and with the current coronavirus crisis going on, people’s politics are already strung tight. Along with the smearing and/or idolizing of political leaders, there is also the rise of conspiracy theories and doomsday predictions. We should have nothing to do with either of these.
For some, politics is the closest thing they have to religion. Throughout human history, in fact, many peoples have even worshiped their national leaders as deities. In North Korea this is even the case today – their leader is revered as a god, a savior. This form of idolatry is embedded deep in the sinful nature of fallen man.
Even some of you, perhaps – by so idolizing your chosen leader, and by so demonizing any opponent, and by being so tuned in to it all – show yourselves to still be children of this world in your hearts.
That’s harsh – but do examine your hearts. In whom or in what are you putting your ultimate trust when you get so caught up in these things? To whatever the faith of your heart clings, that becomes your god.
Brothers and sisters, put your trust only in your Risen Savior, Jesus Christ, who has overcome the world [John 16:33]. And look only for His kingdom to come. We are called to be a people neither of protesting nor of idolizing, but of prayer. Our work is to pray for our leaders:
“I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions.” To what end? – “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life.”
Brothers and sisters, the leaders of your nation, the leaders of your state, and the leaders of your city or township, are real human beings. And they are mere human beings. They are people who need the same thing you need in Jesus. Pray for them.
More than being concerned about their politics, you are called to be concerned for their salvation. You are the ones in this world who pray in the name of the Jesus and therefore are heard.
Instead of treating political leaders, of either stripe, as enemy combatants – or as lords and saviors – we are to be a priestly people for them by commending them into the hands of our Risen Lord and Savior by our prayers. Jesus, who has died and risen for you and me, also died and rose for them – on that same Good Friday; on that same Easter.
Listen one more time to our Epistle lesson: We pray “for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions”… “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Mayors and governors and senators and congressmen and presidents, and those running against them – God desires that they be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. So God commands, “Pray for them”.
Will your prayers be heard? Yes, Jesus has promised that through His name God has an ear open to you. Prayer does not depend upon your worthiness to pray. Instead, God has promised to hear those who believe and love His Son. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you” Why? “For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” [John 16:23,27]
We love that One who first loved us and gave His life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins [1 John 4:10,19]. Through Jesus, God loves us and hears us.
Politics are important. The actions of elected leaders affect your welfare and the welfare of your neighbor. Some issues are matters of life and death. Therefore, caring about what happens to your nation at a political level is part of loving your neighbor as yourself. But be on guard that caring for your nation doesn’t turn into faith in your nation or faith in politics. Your chief calling is that of intercessor in Jesus – praying in Jesus’ name on behalf of your nation, neighbors, and leaders.
What does your nation need? What do senators and presidents need? What do protestors and political pundits need? They need that which the King of Kings has already done for them: “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”
They need Jesus who has given Himself into death on the cross as the ransom price to redeem them and us from sin, death, and the devil. They need this real Savior in whom to trust.
In politics, count no one as your enemy, and don’t make anyone into your savior either. Instead, pray for them all in the name of Jesus, and let the speech of your mouth be more filled with the testimony about Jesus, the Savior of sinners, who paid the price of your redemption and theirs. Amen.