In my lifetime, there have been six American presidents, and of those, I really only have memories or personal opinions of four. I have never cared much for the topic of politics, and I did not grow up in a household where it was a focus. I feel like the majority of today’s generation of American kids will not be able to say the same when they are adults. The political climate of society today is so divided and it is extremely loud. Thanks (or not) to social media, everyone has an opinion and everyone gets to share it. This coupled with the fact that our current president is very opinionated and has no problem bluntly speaking his mind only adds to the divide. Never before in my lifetime have I seen a man so vehemently hated by many and so strongly loved and embraced by others. It is the reason I deleted the Facebook app and refrain from watching the news. To me, the divide and the loudness on both sides are maddening.
God created us all with different types of personalities and passions and because of this, we are bound to have opinions. As Americans, we have the right to believe what we want and say what we want. I am thankful for this freedom. However, just because we have an opinion does not always mean we need to scream it from the rooftops. Instead, we should take our thoughts, feelings, and opinions to the Lord and see what He would have us do with them. Before we go into what the Bible says about this, we need to remember why we should do so. As born-again believers, our main focus in life is to honor and glorify the Lord. He has given us His Spirit to mold and shape us into becoming more like Him. It is not always an easy process. We have to die to ourselves daily and deny the flesh. That means that we need to actively fight against our own selfish desires and walk in the way Jesus calls us to walk. With this being said, 1 Peter 2:17 tells us, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” I want to take a special focus on the last sentence. Not only are we to honor and love everyone, but we are also commanded to honor our political leaders. It does not say to honor only the leaders who we agree with, or even only the leaders who we deem to be “good people.” You can think what you want about our current president or the presidents in the past, but none of them hold a candle to the leader Peter was referring to here in his letter. The emperor at this time was one of the most wicked and evil tyrants in history – Emperor Nero. The man persecuted and murdered thousands, including his own mother! He threw people to lions for entertainment. He dipped Christians in wax, impaled them on poles, and lit them on fire to form human torches. This man was pure evil and yet Peter told Christians to honor him.
How can we as believers honor the leader of our country, even the ones we do not like or disagree with? Paul reminds us in Romans chapter 13 that God is the one with full and complete authority and is the One who puts kings and political leaders in their places. Even though we might not understand why, we can trust that God knows what He is doing and is in control. Since God has put our president in office, we should not only speak of him respectfully but we should focus our energy on praying for him. In 1 Timothy 2:1-3 we read, “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.” We please the Lord when we honor and pray for our leaders.
Giving honor to the President does not mean that we have to like him, agree with everything he says and does, or that we should not speak out for what is right. It does not even mean we cannot express and expose what is wrong. However, we should do so with honor and respect, trusting God and praying for the authority He has set up. We should honor the President because we fear and love the Lord. We should let Him work out the rest!