Does anyone question that our country is divided?
It seems that half our country hates President Trump. OK, “half” is an exaggeration, but it’s clear that large pockets of people despise and vilify the president. They may publicly bemoan the antics of pseudo-comedienne Kathy Griffin, but inwardly their own sentiments are just as hateful.
Lest you think I’m censuring one group, let’s remember that just last year the other side of the political spectrum hated President Obama. For the eight years of his presidency, we endured hated-filled rhetoric and Internet memes designed to show just how much people despised President Obama.
Such a view from either side of the aisle is unchristian. It’s unbiblical. It’s wrong.
Consider the words of two men who both lived—and died—under Nero, one of the worse Roman emperors. While still only a teenager, Nero murdered his stepbrother who stood in his way. He had his wife killed because he didn’t like her. He married again and then supposedly killed that wife by kicking her while she was pregnant. The next year he would marry his third wife after her husband was driven to commit suicide. Because Nero’s mother plotted against him, he likely had her killed as well.
Nero was the first emperor to persecute Christians. He had Christians arrested, punished in horrific ways, and murdered. Yet two of the believers who died violently under his rule wrote these words.
- Paul: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Rom. 13:1-2).
- Peter: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors” (1 Pet. 2:13-14).
Saul was the first king of Israel, and he was pretty lousy at it. It got to the point that God essentially said, “That’s enough. I’ve raising up a new king.” And that king would be David. Saul knew it. David knew it. Everybody knew it. King Saul was the ultimate lame duck.
Everyone knew God had chosen David, yet when David had not one, but two opportunities to kill Saul, he wouldn’t do it. C’mon, David. Saul has been rejected; you’ve been chosen by God to be the king! But David would not raise a hand against “the Lord’s anointed” (1 Sam. 24:6).
This is the same David who was a man after God’s own heart (13:14).
Let’s strive to be people after God’s own heart. Do our recent presidents—past and present—deserve our respect? No, but we don’t deserve God’s grace either. And yet here we are: recipients of something we don’t deserve.
Let’s respond to His grace with loving obedience to Christ, and that means respecting the authorities God has placed in our lives. And when we do this, we show …
- … we are not ruled by our politics.
- … we are not ruled by our emotions.
- … we walk in the love of Christ. The absence of hate-filled rhetoric or disrespect makes it possible for others to see the love of Christ in us—and to be drawn to that love.
- … we are citizens of a greater kingdom, an eternal one ruled by One whose love knows no limits.
For a printable version: click here.
This post supports the study “Respect Authority” in Bible Studies for Life.
I used to attend Sunset Baptist. I was even baptised at that church, but eventually I decided to attend a different church. I respect Sunset and their efforts to bring folks closer to Christ. I think I may have even heard you speak from time-to-time 🙂
With that said, I respectfully disagree with this article. I understand the sentiment. Obedience to God is a pillar of most denominations, but refusing to show respect to Trump doesn’t Make one a bad Christian . I believe it comes down to how someone perceives Trump and what he is doing to our country, as well as reading the Bibke within the context of the society in which it was written. I can’t speak for others, so from now on, I’ll share only my perception.
I don’t respect Trump. I believe he is corrupt and he is damaging America, not only within our borders but our reputation internationally. I march against him, rally for politicians that can unseat those in Congress who support him, and actively try to help those marginalized by his executive orders.
I won’t bow to him because I don’t think the scripture you mentioned implies I should. Should slaves bow to their masters? Should an abused wife bow to her husband? Should a traumatized child bow to his abusive elder? What if that elder was a priest?
Should the Jews have bowed to Hitler ?
I believe this article and the picking of these scriptures sets a dangerous president such so that I’m commenting on this post, something I’m not typically inclined to do.
If one were to say, “of course you should fight Hitler or an abuser” and then turn around and site scripture to imply we should respect Trump because he isn’t as bad as Hitler, is dangerous. It’s a double standard. And when I read articles like this, I worry that is the message bring sent.
There are people who are losing their families, homes, jobs, dignity…all because of trump. Because of his orders. Because of what he stands for. His words incite hate and violence.
Should we bow?
No. Not if we see trump in the image I just described.
Peaceful protest isn’t anti God. Standing up for the opressed isn’t anti God.
Just my thoughts. Who knows? I could be wrong.
Thanks for sharing. There is a marked difference between bowing to someone and acknowledging their authority and even submitting to it. In the Book of Esther, Mordecai refused to bow to the one in authority. Same thing with Shadrach, Mescach, and Abednego in Daniel 3. And Peter and Paul, who wrote the passages I cited, could have spared their own lives had they bowed to Nero. Submission to authority is not an endorsement of their character or actions, but it does reflect our own submission to the lordship of Christ.
We should speak our convictions—and we should do so with conviction. My beef is with the tone and rhetoric some Christians use to express their views. We can be firm and passionate about what we stand for without setting aside grace. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6). “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
Joseph and Daniel are also great examples of people who lived and and served government leaders who where morally corrupt.
We are still making the same mistake as the Jews made during the time of Jesus. The Jews wanted a leader that would give them the earthly government they thought would make them happy. They rejected Jesus because He refused to rebel and overthrow the government. Jesus respected the government leaders that the Father chose to place Him under in his humanity. Jesus instead focused His energy on His eternal kingdom. The only time you read Jesus talking negatively about earthly leaders is in the context of His Lordship and their moral state.
I wonder what America would look like at the end of this year if just half of the church poured as much energy and effort into evangelism and discipleship as they do into complaining and protesting.
I think we need to differentiate the person from the figure. While we may not agree with Donald Trump, we still need to respect the figure he represents at this time. At these difficult times, is very hard to separate the person of the figure and we need to be mindful of that.