(1) I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; (2) For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (3) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; (4) Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
A quiet and peaceable life, a life lived with all godliness and honesty. How does that sound? Appealing? Impossible? Perhaps that describes your life now. Perhaps not.
Paul’s powerful words here teach us much about prayer, but I wonder if they can also teach us something about politics.
The word “quiet” in this passage means stillness. Does stillness define my approach to politics and politicians?
The word “peaceable” has been described as meaning “keeping ones seat, undisturbed”. I find it hard to rest or remain seated when I am agitated. When I am anxious I tend to pace around the room or do something physically active to try and distract my mind.
Peaceable and quiet. A life lived with all godliness and honesty. If our conversation, social media posts and private thought lives concerning politics were analysed, would the conclusion match this aspiration?
Here are a few thoughts from the passage above regarding politics and politicians. As I meditate on these verses much comes to mind, but I will try to be brief.
1. We Should Pray for the Salvation of and Wisdom for All Leaders
My primary concern for leaders, national and local, should be for their salvation. Paul does not appeal for prayer for a particular type of politics, but simply for salvation for all in leadership.
I know, I know, Paul appealed to Caesar and in so doing utilised the political system. however, he did not do this in order to promote politics or culture, but rather to proclaim Christ in the highest and most public court of the land.
Do we pray for or against our leaders? Are we better known for our political affiliations and goals than for our love for God?
2. We May Favour a Particular Party or Form of Human Government, I Don’t Think God Does
Clearly, certain types of political system lend themselves to certain freedoms of expression. North Korean believers do not have the freedom to worship, let alone send out missionaries. However, God has not only used His followers in democracies or republics, but has also used them in dictatorships, monarchies and empires.
God may work through a certain political arrangement, but He is not bound by them. He is above them and beyond them. God can just as easily work around them and despite them as He can through them and because of them.
We ought to be careful. God is a jealous God. If we lend to much weight to a governmental system He may take it away so that He does not have to share His glory.
When Paul wrote these words Nero ruled the Roman Empire. His persecution of Christians set the standard for the millennia to come. Yet despite a tremendous lack of freedom, the early church spread quite well. Now, I am English and we do understatement, so by “quite well” I mean it flourished and grew astronomically and perhaps faster than at any other time in history.
3. Our Goal Should Be Spiritual Redemption, Not Political/Cultural Revolution
Christians may certainly involve themselves with politics. I don’t believe we should not discuss these matters or pray about them. The freedom and opportunity to vote is both a blessing and a weighty responsibility. Many godly men and women have and continue to work through democracies and republics to do great good.
But let’s not limit God to only work through certain governments or types of politics. He is greater than any human government or leader. God hand turns the heart of the King/President/Prime Minister/Dictator.
Our highest goal is not the promotion or protection of a certain type or government or politics, but rather it is to fulfil our work as ministers of reconciliation, our work as evangelists, as saints, as the children of God.
Maybe each time we post one political item on social media it should be proceeded and followed by a verse of Scripture or something of a spiritual nature?
Will the next leader of the United Kingdom be Jeremy Corbyn or a Liberal or a Conservative?
Will the next leader of the United States be Trump, Clinton, Sanders or Cruz?
While I will vote when I have opportunity, I am honestly trying not to care who leads so long as believers can live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.