Have you ever read a verse of Scripture that you really wished wasn’t in the Word of God? Some little “do this” or “don’t do that” that leaves you saying, “Um, God? Can we talk?”

Or maybe you try to come up with an alternative to the “holy rule,” so to speak. Okay, you think, I know God’s Word says this but maybe, if I do this awesome deed, I can eliminate this one thing...

One night I sat in a restaurant with two friends enjoying a lovely dinner. Somehow we got into a debate on the Scriptures, what they say, what they mean, and … well … what they really mean.

At some point I started paying attention to the Caesar Salad in front of me as friend #1 expressed her feelings on a particular theological subject.

Friday #2 said, “But what about the verse in Isaiah that says …” and then she rambled it off verbatim.

To which Friend #1 calmly said, “I just ignore that part.”

But you know what? We cannot “just ignore that part.” Or any part. Even those that make us uncomfortable … make us squirm a little.

The List

Recently I came across a verse of scripture I’ve read time and again and yet have managed to ignore or at least assume I was already adhering to its principles. It goes like this:

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior (1timothy 2: 1-3 NIV).

What caught my eye was this: for kings and all those in authority…

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not totally thrilled with our nation’s setup these days. I’m not making a political statement, I’m just giving a fact so you’ll understand better the point I’m trying to make (and a little bit of how God jerked my chain).

…for kings, it said.

Well, I don’t know any kings, I thought. I can ignore that part. But then the Holy Spirit whispered, “He may not be a king, but he’s the president…”

They may not be kings, but they are the members of the Congressthe Supreme Court Justices

Slowly the list began to filter down to anyone and everyone who had even a scintilla of authority in my life. The local and state police, the judges who rule in our county, the traffic cop who directs the children across the road before and after school, teachers, or our pastor (and the elders and deacons of the church), our home owner’s association – the one that determines everything right down to the color paint we can use on our houses – my “boss” (in my case, my editors or the publishers) and the list goes on and on.

Some of the names on my list are also on your list but some vary with our circumstances.

And if making that list wasn’t enough, God brought my eyes back to Paul’s words, which declare we are to pray for everyone.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5: 43-48).