January 14, 2009
An Inaugural Prayer
By Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” – Titus 3:1-2
“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” We’ve all heard the famous line from Shakespeare’s 2 Henry VI. Most of us hear it and make a mental note not to take public office, so we can leave the pressures and politics to someone else. As for me, I’m quite content to fall asleep at night and let someone else worry about preparation for potential terrorist attacks.
I’m glad I’m not president. Or governor. Or member of the board of supervisors. And I’m thankful that others take up those offices.
My relationship with politics has often veered in one of two directions: total immersion or almost abstention. It seems I can’t ride the middle of the road. I have interned with public offices twice while in highschool, campaigned up and down the streets of Virginia, staked out a sidewalk claim outside the polls, and led dozens of students through the state capitol to learn about their government. Then a strange thing happened – I careened away from anything that smacked of public office, and invested my energies in other pursuits. I missed voting in an election or two, and decided to ignore the antics of both Congress and the county board of supervisors.
What provoked such involvement in the public arena at one point and shunning of it at the next?
Like our president-elect so recently promised, I initially placed too hope for change – good, back-to-family-values change – in laws and politics. As that illusion wore away and I realized the quick-fix wouldn’t work, politics lost all its use for me. Congress was mad, and I was just Alice trying to get out of the wonderland.
As the inauguration of our new president is less than a week away, I reflect on both of those attitudes with some regret. There was perhaps some idolization in the one, and certainly some rebellion in the later. What attitude should the civically-conscience Christian display?
Titus carries a message that I often forget. Submission to government so often seems like one more restraint rather than anything helpful or necessary. It’s easy to pass off the speed limits and seat belt laws as government interfering with my business, and I don’t mind bucking those rules when it suits me. And that bit about slander? Only God can know the heart, but we quickly assume we can see through a politician’s. Surely the politicians deserve the verbal abuse, I often think.
But do those attitudes display the “true humility” of a Christian? Errr… not really.
Even in the secular world of politics, there is a spiritual lesson. Paul goes so far as to equate submission to the government with submission to God, for “for there is no authority except that which God has established,” adding that, “Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13:1-2) Honoring public servants, even when they are less than ideal, should be an act of worship just like everything else in our lives. Remember the verse about doing all things for the glory of God (Col. 3:23)? It still applies.
Intersecting Faith & Life: As our president and other elected officials take office this month, “show true humility to all men” by praying for them. Thank God for men who serve in public offices and deal with stresses so you don’t have to. Lift up their challenges, their families, and their hearts before God, who made them in his image. Even when you reach those issues where you “must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) and take a stand against an elected official, remember the grace you have been shown – and pass it on.