Before I begin, I first need to introduce myself since this is my first article with The Dirty Christian, and I also need to clarify this article will not be about my political position or that belonging to Drew. First and foremost, my name is Ricky Beckett. I met Drew through Geeks Under Grace as a writer for Christian Living and was later promoted to editor of Tabletop. I’m a Pre-Seminary student at Concordia University-Ann Arbor with a major in Christian Thought and a minor in Theological Languages, working towards becoming a pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). My theological language proficiencies include Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin. Having read a few of my GUG articles and some of my personal blogs for The Writeous Christian and Sheep of Christ, Drew invited me to write for TDC, and it is with great honor and humility that I accept.
I’ve spouted enough exposition about myself, so let’s briefly move on to my clarification. This article is not going to about about advocacy for Hillary Clinton or President-Elect Donald Trump. I have a more important message. For that, I want us to focus on 1 Timothy 2:1-4, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
I doubt I have to mention the palpable tensions between the left and the right since election night. Neither Hillary nor Trump are likable people. President Obama used to be my boss when I was in the Army, and one of the first things I learned from my superiors is that you don’t have to like him as a person, but you certainly have to respect their position. This principle also applied to my senior NCOs and commissioned officers in my direct chain of command. It doesn’t matter what I thought of them; what matters is the respect owed to them because of their position of authority. There were plenty of NCOs above me whom I did not like, but I had to swallow my pride and respect and obey them regardless of my feelings. I exhort us to do the same with our new President.
Speaking on the God given authority of government, Paul wrote, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7). Imagine how hard that must’ve been for Paul to write. Paul wrote this to the Romans during emperor Nero’s reign, and if you’re familiar with Nero, you know about the horrible and absolutely violent persecution he committed against the Christians. Yet here Paul wrote to give respect and honor to whom they’re owed in government positions, even Nero. Paul had it much worse than we do in America, and yet we fail significantly to give respect and honor to whom they are owed whether that be in law enforcement or the President.
I get that many are angry about the outcome of this election. Yet, I urge, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). It’s okay to be angry. God gave us emotions, after all. Yet acknowledge your anger and deal with it healthfully. If you’re happy about the outcome of the election, be happy, but I urge you not to flaunt your happiness in front of those who are unhappy. Neither reaction, I would argue, is Christlike.
Returning to First Timothy, we all must pray. Paul urges us to pray for all people. It is interesting to me that he urges us to pray for all people while specifically mentioning kings and other people in high positions. This message must’ve been exorbitantly important to him then. You don’t have to like Donald Trump, but as Christians we are called to pray for him. Not only to pray for wise governance, but also for his salvation. The same applies to Hillary Clinton. We often look at celebrities and government officials and say to ourselves, “How the heck can you live that way?” Yet we stop there and often never venture to pray for them. God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth!” Again, all people! God’s desire is that the wicked should turn from their ways and live in Him (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9). He even desires the wicked Donald Trump—and Hillary Clinton—turn from their ways and live in Him. And we ought to pray for such a transformation. We forget that every human being has been created in the image of God—Muslims, terrorists, criminals, politicians, presidents. God wants all these people, and more, to know Him.
God does not call us to be like other people. Calling out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the rest of the crowd listening to His sermon, Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:46-47). He said this right after saying we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Jesus called out the tax collectors and Gentiles not because they’re supposedly evil people, but to make a point to those who viewed them as being such evil people (particularly the Pharisees). In their eyes, tax collectors and Gentiles were evil, vile people—they were their enemies. Yet Jesus said they must love and pray for even these people! That was a serious demand for Jesus to make in that culture. If they don’t love and pray for their enemies, then they are no different than those people who do not have God. In other words, you might as well not have God at all if you’re going to act like you’re not part of His people.
This calls for serious self-reflection, especially now. Whether we are Democratic, Republican, third party, or none of the above, how are we treating others by how we speak and act? Is it loving or hostile? Are we stopping to pray for our enemies on the other side? Are we stopping to pray for our new President? Are we stopping to pray for Hillary? I admit I’m guilty of this. It wasn’t until this past Sunday’s service that I realized I need to stop and pray for both liberals and conservatives as well as my new president and even Hillary, whom I am not the greatest fan of. Yet I need to swallow my pride and do as the Lord commands and love them and pray for them. I didn’t like it, but it took a lot of humility for me to acknowledge this.
Remember that God loves every human being on this planet, even people like Hillary and Trump. That is the gracious love of our God, and it is amazing! It’s situations like this that cause me to praise God for His unfailing love and holiness when we see it as impossible to love people like Hillary and Trump yet God loves them immensely. He loves them so much that He calls His people to love them and pray for them, even though it hurts. It might hurt us to love them and pray for them, but it hurts God even more the longer they don’t know Him.