I had some professors at Furman University I liked. I had some that I did not like. I had one, while on foreign study in Italy, that I actually hated. He made fun of Christians. If we asked a question that had anything to do with Christianity and the Romans (our class was cultural diversity in ancient Italy-a pressing issue of our day…), we were ridiculed. Of course there were other reasons we hated him, that were more academic, literally. He was harder and more strict than the other professor on the trip. So what did we do with that hatred, which we presumed to be justified; after all, he hated Christians and made fun of us? He told us that the reasons the Romans persecuted Christians was because Christians were intolerant. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
So we got together in a small group and blasted him verbally. It was a small group of Christians dominated not the gospel of grace, but by a common hatred for a fellow lawbreaker. Not too long after we got together and vented against this tyrant, the Holy Spirit began to convict us individually. We eventually stopped and pursued more sanctified means of protest and complaint within the proper channels when we arrived stateside: the dean of the school.
Today I read this passage in Titus 3:1-2
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
I wonder if our little “bash sessions” on foreign study were all that unique. I think the general gist of them probably continues with most long after we graduate college. On to bosses. And eventually on to presidents. As Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan reminded us, “gripes go up.”
Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to get together to bash people who promote or perpetuate what we deem is evil? And sometimes we are right. Sometimes what we bash really is evil, so we feel the right to bash, trash, gossip, slander, make fun of the person behind the evil policy. I don’t think we have the right to run our own “smear campaign” behind the scenes.
But how often does this command to “show courtesy to all people” and “to speak evil of no one” really enter into our politically charged impromptu “bash sessions?” This would probably be easier if we actually took seriously Paul’s instruction to Timothy in the 2nd chapter of his first letter to him.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I stink at this prayer. I sadly confess I rarely ever pray for the president. And its not because who I want isn’t in the white house. I’ve just not figured it was very important. But as I’ve gotten a bit older, who is in the white house has become quite important to me. I will not be happy if Obama is elected, and this is one of the first elections where I genuinely care. Because I care, and most people do, these two passages become highly important.
One reminds me that my words about our president are important. My prayers for him are just as important. Thanks to my nifty Prayer Notebook App, I now have a category and will be regularly praying for our president, whoever that may be. I trust that my prayers for our presidents and leaders will then lead me to speak less evil of them personally. Pray despite evil in order to speak less evil.