June 18th 2009

Problem Is – Identifying The Problem!

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God”
Romans 13:1 (KJV)

Oh dear! It would seem little is left to the imagination as to what some of our MPs (and members of the House of Lords, come to that) have been up to as far as their claims for allowances (not strictly expenses) are concerned. I think enough has been said about that in the press. Christians, however, have a responsibility not to speak evil of dignities (Jude 8). That doesn’t mean that we have to support them without question in what they say or do where it is questionable, or when they are, allegedly, dishonest.

The problem seems to be not so much with the system, though that could do with being looked at it would seem, more to do with the personal standards of the individuals concerned. Just because the rules say you might claim for this or that, doesn’t mean that one should. Again, it seems more what one can get away with, rather than what one is entitled to in order to better concentrate on and better persue the day job of governing the country. I remember as a very young office junior, my boss was sending me off on my first away day taking or collecting something. He said that he was not going to scrutinise my expenses, but to remember that anything put down that I would be ashamed to see pinned up on the notice board for everyone to see, was best left unclaimed. Good advice apparently never given to our Parliamentary representatives. What a pity.

For Christians, however, we have a God-given duty laid upon us. Paul goes on: “Render therefore to all their due; taxes to whom taxes are due, custom to whom customs, fear [or due respect] to whom fear, honour to whom honour” (verse 7).

Many Christians know that they are to pray for their leaders. But even that command is very specific and for a very special reason. Have you ever noticed it? “Therefore I exhort [margin: strongly encourage] first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority…” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). So we definitely have a responsibility to pray for (not against) our leaders. But then he gives what we are to pray for: “…that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”

We don’t have to support their policies, or even pray for their success. No, our responsibility is to pray for their decisions to leave us in peace so that we can continue to live a quiet, godly life as Christians, to get on with demonstrating Christianity to those around us, unmolested by government. Now that I can pray for wholeheartedly! Meanwhile we can certainly note with regret politicans’ personal failures at individual morality. It’s a poor record to lay as an example to the next generation.

Most merciful Father, thank you that you oversee what our leaders, whom you appointed in the first place, get up to. We can leave their fate in your hands. They may not recognise your part in their careers, or that you can dispose of them just as easily. Meanwhile we pray, as you have instructed, that their deliberations and law-making will leave Christians at peace to lead the life of witness to those surrounding us, that you have ordained for us. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford

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