“Do Not Speak Evil . . .”

I have recently seen a lot of posts on social networking sites, mostly Facebook, and other places about what is going on Lybia and our involvement in it. Very interesting stuff, to say the least. I’ve heard numerous theories, and I even listened to part of President Obama’s speech concerning the conflict and our country’s role in it. I do not consider myself a political analyst, if you want to know. I think it’s interesting and try to keep up with it for the most part, but I certainly don’t lose sleep about it.

Most of the article links I have seen kind of have the same basic idea in them: Obama criticized Bush about the Iraq war and therefore he is a hypocrite, What are we doing over there!?, Obama needs to tell us what is going on, etcetera. . . I think some of these questions and statements have validity and truth in them, but I ask myself a question: Are we the people to be asking those questions and criticizing government officials?

I realize some things look really bone-headed to us, but according to what we find in Scripture with regards to government officials, should we, especially Christians, be following the world’s ideology of criticizing and griping about the things the government is doing? How does that look to people that don’t believe in Jesus? Will they respect the government if the Christians don’t? There are ways of criticizing without being disrespectful, and I think some of that is okay. But it doesn’t matter if the government acts in a respectful manner or not. The Bible doesn’t have a caveat in it that says we only have to respect authority if they act respectful. It doesn’t give us the liberty to judge that and act respectfully based on that.

I have no problem with a good discussion. This stuff is interesting, but I think we need to be really careful about the nature of our discussion. I have definitely been guilty in the past of unfairly demonizing certain government officials, and others as more saintly than they are and I’m very ashamed of that.

The reason I thought about this today was because, in the Bible lesson I taught to my 4th-6th graders, something that Paul did really jumped out at me. He was in front of the chief priests, the Sadducees, and Pharisees. When Paul said that all his life he had tried to what God wanted him to do, Ananias had his own personal volcanic eruption and yelled at the men standing next to Paul to slap his mouth.

Paul called him a hypocrite and told him that God would strike him because Ananias was supposed to judge Paul according to the law, but totally against the law for him to order someone to slap Paul. He was violating one of the laws he was supposed to enforce. Everyone was, of course, shocked that Paul would speak that way to the high priest and asked him why we spoke that way to God’s high priest.

Paul responded by telling them that he didn’t know that this man was the high priest. Then he quoted the Scripture that says, “Do not the speak evil of the ruler of your people.” Even though Ananias was a self righteous, hypocritical, and corrupt ruler, Paul realized that he needed to respect him because he was ordained by God to rule.

I don’t think this means we just need to accept everything that our government does under the guise of respect. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with them. The Bible makes it clear that God is at the top of the command chain and if our rulers ask us to do something against God’s Word, we must obey God instead of them.

I think some of the criticism I have seen over the last week, however, has been otherwise. When we simply disagree with what is going on, is spouting off about it on Facebook really the best way to express those feelings? Do we really need to make sure everyone know that what the government is doing is stupid? Is that how we demonstrate respect? Furthermore, what good does it do anybody that reads that?

Come on, people, civilized conversation and discussion is great, but lots of negative criticism and comments can fairly quickly go beyond the respect that God commands us to have for civil authorities.

I think issues that cause you to disagree with the government should only heighten your awareness that Christ’s kingdom is not down here, not give you reasons to jump on the bandwagon with the rest of the media, and join them in their open disrespect and criticism.  Let’s face it. We don’t know what goes on in the oval office, and neither does the media–even if they would like us to think that they do. I’m guessing Obama also knows more about what goes on behind the scenes than he did when he was making those comments about the war in Iraq while campaigning.

Let’s do our best to be known for our respect of the government. We don’t have to blindly think think that whatever they do is saintly and awesome. We don’t either have to express our disapproval in distasteful manners and in inappropriate places.

Really, it’s not that much more appropriate to express your feelings of disapproval for your government leaders via Facebook, than it would be to do that for one of the ministers in your church. I realize there are marked differences between the two, and that you personally know your minister. But they are both God-ordained authorities and they must be respected. The world is often very vocal about its disagreements and gripes with authority, but really, I think we, who are followers of Christ, are called to something much higher than that.

Keep it to civil discussion, and avoid whining and complaining about it on Facebook or Twitter. Most of us know that politicians are corrupt. I myself, once journeyed past my mailbox and discovered it was so. I personally, don’t need more reasons to think negative thoughts about civil authority.

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