Yup Dad, I'm talking about things you've told me not to--again.
My Bible study group had its weekly meeting last night, and the scripture from Romans (13:1-14) that our study covered perfectly suited the occasion of Election Day. Politics and religion have both been topics that I've thought a lot about over the years, but it's only been over the course of the last six months or so that I've been examining my political views, which formed long before I became a Christian, in light of my faith.
Fortunately the scripture and discussion didn't lend itself to the typical hot topic issues like abortion and stem cell research, but instead it addressed our relationship to the state and to the world. Until I read this passage, I hadn't thought about my obligation as a Christian to our government beyond obeying the laws. The scripture states that God put all governments into power and seems to suggest that civil governments are the institution of God and therefore deserve respect and submission. (And yes, there are all sorts of logical questions that flow from this--the first one that came to my mind was Hitler, but I'm glossing over the nuances for now.)
Over the last six years, I've failed to show any respect to our president.
The morning after the election in 2000, I was so disappointed in my fellow Americans. Almost half of American voters voted for him, and it made me sad. The debacle with the Supreme Court didn't help, and during his tenure, President Bush has provided plenty of fodder for me to make fun of him with and help me mentally justify my general lack of respect. I've never prayed for God to guide him in his decision-making or to give him wisdom. Instead I've mocked what I've perceived as his many flaws and concentrated solely on the negative. I'd never heard the verses about God sending the authorities to help me (Romans 13:4) or thought about Bush's presidency being part of God's providential control. Now that I have, I am re-thinking my attitude and trying to have an open mind and heart.
Christian or not, I think we seem much more credible when we focus more on facts and less on ridicule. Think about Venezulean President Hugo Chavez's comments about President Bush being "the devil" and smelling of sulfur. I'm also reminded of another lesson I've learned: it's better to present the facts and let people draw their own conclusions than to just call someone an idiot or stupid (or the devil). So I need to remember that it's not by happenstance that President Bush is our president, and I should recognize that, offering him my respect regardless of my disagreement with him and his policies.
p.s. Should I switch to beta blogger?