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Are You Praying For Our Leaders, Or … ? — 23 Comments

  1. It is not just the leaders of nations that are in need our loving prayers (and by this, I do not mean sentimental wishy-washy perfunctory prayers). The people in our lives that challenge, irritate, aggravate, vex and hurt us need our loving prayers that God will align our way of thinking and acting to align with his for the sake of their and our lives. Because if we do not pray and act earnestly for God to work the miracle of change in both of our hearts, neither of us will qualify for heaven.

    I consider Matthew 23:11-39 to be one of the most profound yet difficult prayers of the bible, as difficult for those who heard it as for the One who spoke it with tears. It was God's pleading call for change to the hearts of those who heard its words. It was the double-edged sword of the Spirit from the mouth of the Lord, given in his name (character), to work healing in their hearts and ours. It was spoken that both they and we would know the only true God, and the One whom he sent to this earth. It is the kind of prayer that I would have the courage to pray only in silence and alone.

    Amen!(12)
  2. Social media is actually very useful. It all depends on how you use it, and the character and integrity of the people that you allow in your social network.

    Organizations such as schools and colleges use social networks to connect alumni across generations to current students. I’ve seen social media repeatedly being used to help people who are depressed and suicidal, we currently have an epidemic of that in the United States. I’ve seen it used to help people with the emotional support they need to navigate illness and divorce, and get the strength and support to speak out about the effects of rape and sexual abuse in their lives. Social media allows people to reveal their authentic selves if the choose to. On one hand they can choose to put up a facade, but on the other when they don’t beautiful things are possible.

    Remember, not everyone is blessed with the in-person social support they need to navigate lives difficulties. Some people have no one they can trust.

    Amen!(7)
  3. Thanks for this post William.

    Its quite sobering to take a step back and consider how many ways the Kingdom of Darkness has infiltrated the Church. Thanks for hilighting yet another 'subtle' though insidious expression of such.

    Can I suggest that we still have a way to go in comprehending, understanding and embracing the full implications of having a heart that is exclusively motivated by self-renouncing love. This is how Jesus said that people will 'know' (ie experientially know) we are followers of Him because we share His same heart of compassion (Jn 13:35).

    Amen!(6)
  4. Thank you for this opportunity to help us take stock of how we interact with each other and the world as professed Christians. When I think of how Christ did not insult or accuse Satan himself, though He knows all things, I see a stark contrast to our willingness to pass on negative reports, memes and photos when we really know very little about the situation. Social media are just a more public venue for what just used to be called gossip, and the problem is not so much social media as our own hearts.

    You are rightly focusing on how Christians relate to leaders whom they judge to be wrong in some way. Somehow, many Christians seem to feel free from constraint in criticizing leaders. It seems that the standards of Christlike conduct do not apply when judging leaders either in the church or in the world.

    Do we naively believe that what we read/see in the media gives us God-like insight so that we can judge like God? I have been personally dismayed how predictably even Christians are affected by emotive memes and iconic photos without knowing anything beyond what media choose to portray. It seems that in North America, at least, we live in a society that is easily manipulated.

    God gave this church instructions many years ago, warning us not to engage in "party politics." I don't think this was intended to keep members from voting. But I now see why this instruction was given when I see people automatically assume that their chosen party is good and the other evil. Besides fostering very un-Christlike verbal behavior, in the United States it has the effect of closing the minds of half the population that voted for the "other" party, whichever that might be, to anything we might have to say to them regarding biblical truth.

    Amen!(3)
    • "How different is the faith that is presented to the world today as essential to salvation. It has no vitality, no reality. It does not unite the believers as branches to the living Vine. It is not the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. It is a formal, nominal acceptance of a popular story, and has about as much efficacy as the faith that accepted Abraham Lincoln as a good administrator of governmental affairs."

      Ouch!

      The above quotation was taken from a Signs of the Times article by Ellen White, published March 30, 1888.

      Apparently, Inge, someone very well respected in Seventh-day Adventist circles, while not necessarily disagreeing with your position as a general rule, thought there was a time to speak out concerning democratically elected leaders who abuse their power.

      I wonder just where you would draw the line, if anywhere. For instance, if you were living in Germany in the 1930s, and by whatever means, you had come to a fairly clear understanding of the true character of the Leader (Fuhrer), would you criticize those fellow Christians who spoke out against the Adolf? Would you regard them as political partisans?

      Amen!(5)
      • Ron, before I answer your question, you should consider replying to Robert Whiteman's questions:

        Were there corrupt leaders in Jesus' day? Paul's day?

        What is their example?

        Even if Christ's example and Paul's example - who both lived under a corrupt Roman government - were not so clear, there is this biblical counsel:

        Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. (Acts 23:5, apparently quoting the OT)
        speak evil of no man (Titus 3:2)

        To my way of seeing things, that leaves no room for criticising, ridiculing, judging or condemning any person.

        Amen!(1)
        • Inge, Robert Whiteman's questions are off-target, because my comment had to do with "democratically elected leaders who abuse their power." I do not believe there were any of those in the 1st century.

          Do you feel that Ellen White's comment concerning Abraham Lincoln, which I quoted verbatim, was criticizing, ridiculing, judging, or condemning him?

          I agree that personal attacks on leaders are inappropriate. We should be addressing the issues where necessary, including the possible unfitness of an elected leader for the office that he holds, and any real danger that his policies, practices, crimes, or character may pose to the well-being of his country and of the human race.

          Amen!(1)
          • Ron, am I to conclude that you believe that the biblical counsel applies only to respecting and not criticizing despots, but it's okay to disrepect and accuse democratically elected leaders?

            And how should we read Ellen White's statement which you quote? Was she writing about faith, or was she writing about Abraham Lincoln?

            [The faith that is presented to the world today] is a formal, nominal acceptance of a popular story, and has about as much efficacy as the faith that accepted Abraham Lincoln as a good administrator of governmental affairs. Genuine faith will show definite results in the character, and will exert a controlling influence over the thoughts of the heart, and the affairs of the life. It will lead its possessor to practice the principles of his belief. [Emphasis added by me.] (Signs of the Times article by Ellen White, published March 30, 1888.)

            For my part, I don't see Ellen White criticizing Abraham Lincoln. In fact her statement might be read to suggest that he was "a good administrator of governmental affairs." However, the "formal acceptance" of Abraham Lincoln as "a good administrator of governmental affairs" has no efficacy for salvation. Neither does a faith that is merely "a formal, nominal acceptance of a popular story [i.e. the gospel]." If you see something else in this statement, you'll have to spell it out for me.

            I do think the statement is appropriate in the current context. Genuine faith will lead us to practice the principles of heaven and demonstrate that heaven is our home, as Maurice suggests.

            You also wrote

            We should be addressing the issues where necessary, including the possible unfitness of an elected leader for the office that he holds, and any real danger that his policies, practices, crimes, or character may pose to the well-being of his country and of the human race.

            Judging by the buzz on social media, a great many people feel themselves qualified to make such judgments. However, I think William made a compelling point when he wrote

            But even if leaders are as evil as some people believe, as Christians we have the example of Christ who, “when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9 NKJV) If Christ did not dare to insult and accuse Satan himself, how do we dare insult and accuse another human being?

            By the way, I need to add this confession: William's article caused me to do some self-examination, and I find myself coming up short by the standard that Jesus set. By the grace of God, I intend to pray more for our leaders both in the church and in the world, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will set a guard before my mouth so that I may not sin by judging what even Christ refused to judge before the time.

            Amen!(4)
          • Excellent question, Lars! It's always good to go back to the Bible to get our bearings.
            I'm assuming you refer to this:

            Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

            Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. (Mark 6:18-20)

            And Christ's reference to John the Baptist.

            This is he of whom it is written:

            ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
            Who will prepare Your way before You.’

            28 For I say to you, among those born of women there is [g]not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:26-28)

            From this I get that John spoke directly to Herod who knew him (John) to be "a just and holy man." John's mission was to prepare people for the first coming of Christ, and ours is to prepare people for the second coming of Christ.

            I believe that if we are to take John the Baptist as our example, we need to be praying for a daily baptism of the Holy Spirit so that others may know us as holy men and women. Then we will be in a position like John the Baptist so we can speak directly into their lives - whether they be in government or our next-door neighbors. (I don't see online gossip, ridicule and insults as part of our commission.)

            I think Brendan James summed it up well when he wrote:

            As ambassadors that belong to the kingdom of heaven, there are certain rules we must abide by in order to be effective in our roles. One of those rules is not to buy into the politics of our hosts. Left/right...democrat/republican...liberal/conservative...our message, the gospel, transcends these divisions.

            Now here's a question for you: How would you see a modern John the Baptist behaving in today's world?

            Amen!(1)
    • It is interesting to go back to some of my Facebook friend’s timelines and read the entries back during the Obama years and juxtapose that next to their current statements that we should not criticize our leaders. I’m tempted to cut and paste, but it’s not my place to humiliate them.

      Amen!(0)
      • Well, Lars, maybe you could act the part of John the Baptist, by talking directly to them. 🙂

        Or on a less ambitious note, you could at least give them the gift that Robbie Burns mentions in his poem, "To a Louse"

        O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
        To see oursels as ithers see us!
        It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
        An' foolish notion

        Amen!(0)
        • It’s a complex topic, how Christians should respond to hedonistic pagan leaders such as we have today. Referring to King Herod, even Jesus stated publicly,

          “And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.” Like 13:32

          It needs to always be done with respect, but whether a Hitler or a Trump, there seems to be a place for calling sin by its name. When, for example, the very pillars of separation of church and state are under attack in the US, conscience demands that we not remain silent.

          Amen!(0)
          • I agree that it is a complex topic. And I also agree with William Earnhardt that

            May I also suggest that instead of hiding behind an electronic device on social media, to hurl insults at others, that sensitive issues are better discussed face to face in real life? I have yet to see social media solve a social issue. Social issues are better solved in social real life discussions. It also helps us to be more responsible and Christ-like with our comments.

            My concern is that much of the political chatter on social media by my Christian friends does not appear to have any chance to advance the commission Christ gave us. Quite the contrary, if "by beholding we become changed" then what does such constant attention to the activities of "hedonistic pagan leaders" do for those who focus on them? I believe Paul gave us good counsel on our focus in Phil 4:8. (I confess I have far to go along this road myself, but the journey begins by recognizing which road to take and which not to take.)

            I'm not condemning anyone for occasional errant comments, not even for a stream of such comment. But I am concerned that good people on my social media friends list are having their mission sabotaged by this focus on politics which pits them against 50% of the population of the United States.

            As for Christ's message to Herod, what do you think were the chances of that message actually getting to Herod and causing him to think? By comparison, what are the chances of the online chatter actually getting to a "hedonistic pagan leader" and causing repentance or a change in policy?

            Those living in a free country like the US have the privilege and responsibility to vote and influence public policy through established channels that have more hope of success than online venting. Communicating with local representatives to congress comes to mind .. But speaking of politics, I'm remembering the admirable policy of Ben Carson to refrain from attack speech. He didn't win the presidential nomination, and you may not agree with his current activities, but I think you might agree that his policy of refraining from attack speech has merit. Would it be possible to focus on positives, for instance? (Phil 4:8 again.)

            I still think Brendan James' comment provides a good baseline:

            As ambassadors that belong to the kingdom of heaven, there are certain rules we must abide by in order to be effective in our roles. One of those rules is not to buy into the politics of our hosts. Left/right...democrat/republican...liberal/conservative...our message, the gospel, transcends these divisions.

            Amen!(2)
  5. When Jesus was before Herod, Herod questioned him for a long time, but the Bible records that He answered him nothing. There are times in this great battle between good and evil when silence is eloquent.

    In the arena of social media, rising up in defense of Christianity is best met with Christian behaviour not Christian fight.

    Jesus instructed us in John 18:36:

    Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

    We need to remember which kingdom we belong to when writing on social media.

    Amen!(14)
  6. While we should always seek to comport ourselves in a Christlike manner whether on or off social media, I don’t see any evidence from scripture that supports the position that Christians should refrain from criticizing our leaders or anyone for that matter. It’s how the criticism is done. If our default position is to constantly spew negative criticism with no interest for the well being of the leader(s) or for those being led, then this is not advancing Christ’ mission. That being said, we should hold our leaders accountable, including those in public office and within the church organization as well. What I do see, which I believe is the point the article is making, is that to engage in spreading falsewood, vile comments or even accusations that might be true but delivered in a disrespectful manner do not reflect our profession of faith in Christ. However, let us be careful that while we seek to heed Paul’s counsel to “If possible, live peaceably with all men”, Rom 12:18, we don’t give the impression that we should not hold our leaders accountable. There are times when the actions and behavior of our leaders will need to be called out similar to what Christ did in Matt 23. Our leaders like the rest of us need our prayers.

    Amen!(13)
  7. I do believe there are times to call out injustice and to hold leadership (and each others) accountable to the truth, but how we do it matters. Face to face is best, but if we use the online means, our integrity is still at stake and shouldn’t be compromised just to make a point. Sadly, you didn’t have to question that young woman’s integrity as she judged her own. When it happens in the church, or by the church, we do a profound disservice to the name of Jesus.

    Amen!(3)
  8. Excellent post and much needed advice, right from the Bible!

    Thank you William. I've heard political predictions from the pulpit and bad political comments during the sermon. We've heard a man bashing a politician right after the church service! I had to stop the man and tell him church is for loving people and spreading the Gospel, not for what he was doing. That was the only thing that got him to stop!

    People can talk about politics with their friends and family and whoever they want, but not in church. It's not the place. I don't discuss politics with anyone except my husband.

    We've got a long way to go to have hearts that are after Christ.

    You wrote: "In Daniel 4 we see a pagan king who repents and is saved." Our goal should be loving and praying for these people as you have said.

    Thank you William for a great post!

    Amen!(2)
  9. As ambassadors that belong to the kingdom of heaven, there are certain rules we must abide by in order to be effective in our roles. One of those rules is not to buy into the politics of our hosts. Left/right...democrat/republican...liberal/conservative...our message, the gospel, transcends these divisions. As for voting, these days of subterfuge and deception, how can we know by the very limited information available, that we are not actively promoting the image to the beast by voting for a certain candidate? Even professed Christian candidates must be treated with a certain amount of scepticism. After all, as the final manifestation of Babylon is a counterfeit, so would be her supporters yes?

    Amen!(2)

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