When I was a kid, I wanted to be president of the United States. In school, we learned about George Washington and the cherry tree. We learned about Honest Abe and Old Hickory. Presidents were patriots. Ronald Reagan was my hero.
But then something happened as I got older. I learned that not all presidents were heroes. I read about President Nixon and Watergate. I found out about President Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. I watched on live TV as the Monica Lewinsky scandal unraveled.
Today, like many Americans, I am somewhat jaded when it comes to our political system. I have heard the promises and seen the corruption. I have watched the chasm between red states and blue states grow into a canyon.
Suffice it to say, I no longer want to be president of the United States.
The world of politics today is all about sound bites and talking points, Fox News and CNN – pundits and politicians screaming at the top of their lungs. Sincere passion has turned to pride and prejudice. Our world has lost the ability to respectfully disagree.
Sadly many Christians fall into that category.
The Apostle Paul lived during the time of the Roman Emperor Nero. Emperor Nero was a scumbag. He murdered his own mother. He poisoned his stepbrother Britannicus. He purportedly played his fiddle while the city of Rome burned. Then he blamed the Christians. Nero is the first Roman emperor to begin a statewide persecution of Christians. Peter and Paul were supposedly martyred in Rome during his reign.
It was during Nero’s reign of terror that Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in the city of Rome. Even as they lived under the rule of a tyrannical and corrupt government, Paul told them, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established … Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:1,7).
Nero was emperor because God had given him that position of power. Did God condone Nero’s wickedness? By no means. Yet, he used it as a part of his plan of love for his people. Paul’s point was that whether a government is good or not, God wants us to honor and obey it out of love and respect for him.
When we respect the authorities he has placed over us, we are respecting God.
Does that mean you have to agree with everything the president of the United States says and does? Of course not. But as Christians we respectfully disagree. We do not deride or defame our president. We don’t call him a jerk or other more crass expletives.
We don’t even call him Obama. We call him President Obama. We pray for him. We ask God to bless him and us through him. When he acts in a way that is contrary to God’s will and Word, we ask God to forgive him. We speak up. We let him and the world know we disagree, but we do so respectfully.
Because by honoring him, we honor our God who placed him over us. By respecting our president, we respect our Creator God who has given us everything we have and made us everything we are. By obeying our government, we are living for our Savior who lived and died for us.
God bless our president and God bless America.