Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Politics of James 3:9-10

Many Christians may be tempted today (and may be more in days to come) to fill their mouths with declamations, sarcastic jokes and doomsday predictions about our new president. At such times we need a biblical reality check to recall why God created our tongues. James 3 helps us:

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so.

What, then, should we who long for righteousness to reign on the earth in the face of the election of an unrighteous ruler do with our speech? Paul tells us in
I Timothy 2:1-4:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:1-4).

Over the past two weeks we've posted some wise, biblical advice in the realm of politics from the tongue of John Piper. I'll let him have the last word in guiding us in the use of our tongues in light of our nation's election outcome and in light of
I Timothy 2:1-4:

1. Giving thanks “for kings” is hard when they are evil.
And, as Calvin said on this passage, “All the magistrates of that time were sworn enemies of Christ.” This shows us that anarchy is a horrible alternative to almost any ruler. We should give thanks for rulers because “non-rule” would unleash on us utterly unbridled evil with no recourse whatever. Again Calvin: “Unless they restrained the boldness of wicked men, the whole world would be full of robberies and murders.” The better we understand the seething evil of the human heart that is ready to break out where there is no restraint, the more thankful we will be for government.

2. The effect we pray for is “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly, and dignified in every way.”
Dignified means “serious and reverent,” not stuffy. I suspect what Paul means is not that we can’t live godly and serious lives during times of anarchy. We can. I suspect he means that peaceful and quiet lives, which are the opposite of anarchy, are often wasted in ungodly and frivolous actions. So he is praying for a government that would give peace and quiet (not anarchy), and that Christians would not fritter away their peaceful lives with the world, but would be radically godly and serious about the lost condition of the world and how to change it.

3. Using our peace for radical godliness and serious action will lead to more effective evangelism and world missions.
This last observation is confirmed by the hoped-for outcome Paul mentions. Paul says that the reason God delights in such peaceful, Godward, serious action is that he “desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” More people will be saved if our government restrains the horrors of anarchy, and if Christians use this peace not to waste their lives on endless entertainment, but seriously give their lives to making God known.


Ben Duncan said...

Andy Perry for Congress in 2010!

Anonymous said...

Somehow I don't think Andy wants that role!

Awesome post.

stephanie j. said...

Thanks, Again, Pastor Andy for your wise and encouraging words. I had linked to the Piper article on my blog, and it led to more comments than I have ever had before...I think it touched a nerve (not everyone agreed with it). I was also able to encourage my parents, in-laws and some in my Ladies Bible study with his thoughts and biblical truth. They had self-admittedly been despairing, and just needed a dose of The Bible to pull them out of the sadness.

FuzyMunky said...

I apologize for responding to an old post (I'm not up on the "blogging etiquette") but I do have to say that I've said my share of "there goes the neighborhood" and "buy your guns now while you still can" comments since BO was elected.

But reading this, I've been reminded of God's perfect will. Obama didn't "sneak" into office, or cheat his way in, or any other way of writing that off. God allowed him to be elected. And if He allowed him to be elected, then my job is to pray for him I guess.

We conservatives can easily fall into traps from Rush Limbaugh and hope that Obama fails, I know I've entertained the thought. But for one, all men fail in some facet of life. So what would God have me do, pray for the man's failure, or pray for the status of the man's heart?

Thanks for making me think about this Andy. Once again, you challenge me to be a different (better) person.