Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. – Hebrews 13:17
This is a follow-up to the devotion “Mom and Dad and God.”
In the Fall of 1976, I was in the 6th grade. Our social studies class was learning about the presidential election process in the United States and we were watching with growing interest the campaigns of the current president Gerald Ford and his challenger Jimmy Carter.
In my 6th grade mind, the decision was an easy one to make. I even promoted a little poem that, in rhyme, said it all (or so I thought).
“Ford – straight as a board!”
“Carter is a f******!”
Hey! I was in the 6th grade! This is the kind of thing 6th graders did in presidential campaigns back in 1976.
Or so I thought.
Fast-forward to the presidential campaign of 2016 – 40 years later. By most appearances, 6th graders are still running presidential campaigns!
Making fun of the government, candidates, and current office-holders is nothing new in this country.
In 1796 John Adams was branded as a “monarchist” in the election against Jefferson.
In 1800 Jefferson was branded an “un-Christian deist” in his election against Adams.
In the 1828 election between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, Adams was branded as a decadent aristocrat, who had procured prostitutes for the Russian Czar while serving as ambassador to Russia. They also accused him of spending taxpayer money on “gambling” equipment for the White House (which turned out to be a chess board and a billiards table). Jackson was accused of being a violent frontier ruffian and the son of a prostitute married to a mulatto.
And just one more. In the election of 1840, the contest between William Henry Harrison and Martin Van Buren included such slogans as “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too,” “Van, Van, Van/Van is a used-up man,” and accusations of Harrison living in a log-cabin and drinking hard cider.
Presidential politics has not really changed much since the campaigns after George Washington (who ran unopposed for both of his terms).
But that still doesn’t make it right.
Just as we are to honor our parents, as the Fourth Commandment says, we are to also honor all those who have authority over us.
Martin Luther – the 16th Century Reformer – spelled out what the Fourth Commandment means to Christians: We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them (emphasis added).
As men and women who have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit so that we can live godly lives here in time and for eternity in heaven.
This includes respecting those who have authority over us – including elected and appointed governmental officials!
We should remember that we are not required to actually do all the things our parents or government may demand of us. In fact, “we must disobey them if they exceed the limits of their God-given authority by requiring us to disobey God’s Word” (An Explanation of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Field Test Edition, July 2016 ©2016 Concordia Publishing House, p 27).
However, we must also “distinguish between what a government permits people to do and what it compels them to do. When it compels us to act contrary to God’s Word then we must disobey and live as God intends. When government permits activities contrary to God’s Word (e.g. abortion, no-fault divorce, same sex marriage) we bear witness by living as God intended” (An Explanation of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Field Test Edition, July 2016 ©2016 Concordia Publishing House, p 28, emphasis added).
I think it is time to make a change – to stop all the jokes, coarse comments, and bitterness aimed at all those in authority over us or who want to be in authority over us. It is time to speak and act as men and women of God. If we disagree with what those in authority say and do, we can say so in respectful and mature ways. If what those in authority over us say and do is contrary to God’s Word, we respectfully and maturely disobey them – making a point to proclaim that “we must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).
©2016 True Men Ministries
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