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Are conservative Christian theology and liberal politics compatible?
Sunday, 30 November 2008
Praying for our enemies: can the call to prayer be treason?
Topic: Positive prayers and posi

As I indicated in my last post, God calls us to pray for kings and all who are in authority--to find reasons to give thanks for them, and to pray FOR them as human beings, for God's gracious activity in their lives.  The call is to pray for those in authority rather than join others in cursing them.  This practice can, and should, be practiced when we hear negative things about leaders in the news, or hear others gossiping about leaders, harshly criticizing them, or cursing them.  Christians are called to bless; cursing of other people made in God's image should not come out of our mouths.  See, James 3:7-12.

However, I will now suggest something that many of my readers may think to border on treason:  the command to pray for those in authority isn't limited to those leaders who are directly in authority over us.  Indeed, it isn't even limited to the leaders of regimes friendly to "us"--whether the "us" in view is Christians or the United States.  Indeed, it extends  even to the leaders of "enemy" regimes.

Jesus said,

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

Matthew 5:44.

It has been correctly said that this verse applies to individual Christians, not governments.  It is not a rule for our government's foreign policy.  But it is a guiding principle for me, in dealing with other individual humans made in God's image.  And Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-il are as much individual humans made in God's image as I am myself, or as any of the people in my circle of acquaintance.  Their official stations as leaders of enemy governments (in Iran and North Korea, respectively), and even the hostility of those governments and their persecution of Christians, do not transform these leaders from humans into subhuman monsters in God's eyes.  Remember that God brought to repentance King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the destroyer of His Temple and the killer of thousands of His people.  See the first four chapters of Daniel.  So, the command to pray for them, as human beings in authority, when I am reminded of them, is just as valid as the command to pray for the leaders of my own country.  I am to pray "for all men, for kings and all who are in authority." I Thessalonians 2:1-2.

This is, in fact, true of any government leader of whom I am reminded by the news, by gossip or by criticism, whether the leader involved is a part of my government, a friendly government, or an unfriendly government.  The news report or verbal attack on the leader is properly taken as a reminder to pray for that leader.

I invite comments about this posting! 


Posted by ian_j_site2 at 5:00 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 30 November 2008 5:03 PM EST

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