My Pledge to Our New President
By Erik Bennett, October 31, 2016
On November 8th America will elect a new president, and American Christians need to be prepared to welcome our new leader in a way that honors God. Scripture has much to say about how Christians should treat their governing officials, but tragically these commands are often discarded and ignored. Like little children who do not get their way, we call people names, whine, complain, make excuses, and shift-blame for our bad behavior when our preferred candidate is not elected.
During this election the vitriol and rhetoric has advanced to a level unlike I have seen during my lifetime. Talk of resistance, whether literal or figurative, and threats of violence are disturbing and scary. While I have no control over the actions of others, I am determined to follow Scripture’s commands for how I treat whomever is elected. I believe my witness to my unbelieving friends and the unbelieving world is stake. More importantly my love for God and my desire to walk with Him compels me to live a life of obedience.
I have, therefore, decided before the election concludes to determine in my heart that I will obey, to the best of my ability, 5 commands of Scripture regarding how I should treat the new president. It doesn’t matter who wins or how I feel about the eventual winner because Scripture is clear that obedience is not conditioned by the character or the godliness of the person in leadership.
1. I Will Honor The New President
Scripture commands believers to honor their leaders in government (1 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 13:7). Honor means to respect or to hold in high esteem. This command is not based on the person in leadership, but instead on God who placed that person in a position of authority. We honor our leaders because we fear God and trust His plan for our country and our world.
2. I Will Submit to the New President
The Christian is commanded to submit to governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-15). In Romans 13, four reasons are given for Christian submission: 1) governing officials are instituted by God (13:1), 2) the threat of incurring judgment (Rom. 13:2), 3) the sake of our conscience (Rom. 13:5), and 4) it is the will of God (1 Peter 2:15). The Christian submits to government officials by following their leadership and by obeying them. Titus 3:2 follows the command to submit with these instructions, “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (ESV).
3. I Will Pray for the New President
Paul urges the early church to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). When we pray for those in authority, our heart aligns with God. Also, 1 Tim. 2:3 indicates that God is pleased when we pray for our leaders. Instead of desiring failure from our political rivals, we should pray for them and ask God to give them wisdom and success so that our nation is blessed through their leadership. Instead of posting slanderous political memes and launching angry, hate-filled attacks against our leaders, the Christian needs to commit to pray for those who lead us.
4. I Will be a Good Citizen
The Christian is to live in such a way that the unbelieving world recognizes our good deeds (1 Peter 2:12). Those in authority need to see Christians obeying the law and seeking the betterment of society through actively engaging in good (1 Peter 2:14). I believe Scripture directs Christians to focus our energy on protecting the poor, defending the fatherless and the widow, and showing love and compassion to a world that is lost. Our lives are a witness, and how we act in the political arena can greatly impact our testimony to the world.
5. I Will Put God First
The allegiance of the Christian lies first and foremost with God. It is from our loyalty to God that we are able to honor, submit, and pray for our sinful, imperfect governing officials. If there ever comes a time when our leaders or our laws require us to do something that would cause us to disobey God, we must choose obedience to God (Acts 5:29). If it means we are persecuted, we should rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer for Christ (Acts 5:41).
Our allegiance to God also requires that we hold all leaders accountable and confront sin and unrighteousness even from those within our chosen political party. To overlook sin because of one’s policies or positions is hypocritical and dangerous to the witness of Christ. We must not forget the reason we hold our leaders accountable is spiritual (i.e. the glory of God) and not political gain.
When our new president is sworn into office, the Christian church needs to be prepared to walk in obedience to God in how we treat our new leader. It would be easy for us to continue the pattern of partisanship, conflict, and slanderous rhetoric that the unbelieving models for us, but this is dishonoring to God and disobedient to His word. I encourage all believers to join me in determining beforehand to obey the commands of Scripture. We only lose when we fail to obey God.