Opinion: Christians Must Respect Those in Authority
All across the United States, there are citizens celebrating the apparent victory of Vice-President Joe Biden as president-elect. Likewise, there are others saddened about President Donald Trump’s election loss and demanding a legal investigation over seemingly fraudulent elections.
The political climate looks as heated than ever before. People are easily triggered, whether they lean right or left, and no one wants to give up the fight. Republicans demand a recount, and Democrats demand that Biden be sworn into office. Division is rampant.
However, where should believers stand? How should we react when our candidate wins or doesn’t win? The answer to these questions is the same: with honor and respect. Whether we agree with a certain individual’s policies or not, whether we see eye-to-eye with them on key political issues, the Bible calls us to honor our authorities.
Honoring and respecting our authorities does not have to equate agreeing with them or obeying them. The Bible calls us to honor the Lord, first and foremost, so when something goes against his Word, we aren’t forced to stand by it. However, we are called to love and honor the individual regardless. As Christ followers, we can do this by praying for them, avoiding the use of foul language against them and recognizing that, they too, are made in the image of God. Thus, we honor them, even when we do not agree with their ideals.
When we disagree with an authority figure, particularly someone in politics, it’s easy to default to name-calling, shaming and mocking. However, no matter how deeply our disagreements run, as Christians, we are not afforded the luxury of behaving in this manner.
An article published by RELEVANT magazine said it well: “While we can (and should) feel strongly about different political and social issues, as Christians, we’re called to respond to authority with respect.” Scott Sauls, the author, said that whether we agree or disagree with our authorities, showing honor and respect is presented in the Bible as a non-negotiable. As believers, it is imperative for us to remember that, in honoring and respecting our authorities, we are honoring God who has sovereignly placed them over us.
“Biblically, Christians have a civic duty to honor their national, state and local officials,” Sauls said. “As long as we aren’t being coerced to sin against God, following Jesus includes submitting to and praying for all of our public authorities.”
It’s frustrating at times, yes, but why is God so clear in his word on this matter? The truth is, God desires for us to act as his agents in this world. This is why Jesus calls us the salt and light of the world; we’re meant to be different. In the midst of political turmoil, we are called to uphold a different attitude than that of the mainstream culture.
When we act humbly, in honor and respect, and share our opinions without degrading other individuals, we are pointing them to the truth of the Gospel. Jesus never sugar-coated the truth. Instead, he was radically honest about it. The Bible doesn’t require our silence, but rather that the truth be spoken in love, always. We must learn this lesson from Jesus, even when it is hard.
Undoubtedly, this kind of behavior is countercultural, which is why it becomes so difficult. It is easier to jump on the mocking train instead of respectfully speaking up, or sometimes even choosing to, wisely, stay silent until better opportunities to speak arise.
When Jesus said his famous line “to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” he was making it clear to us that, as his followers, we have a duty to the earthly kingdom we have been born into, but also to the heavenly kingdom we have been reborn into through his blood. In an article published by Moody Media, Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer wrote that Jesus “taught we owe loyalty to two spheres. Obviously, our loyalty to God is a higher loyalty, but we dare not shirk our responsibility to Caesar.”
Part of our responsibility to Caesar, but most importantly our loyalty to God, is honoring and respecting authority as the Bible commands us to.
Rosa Elias is a Social Media Manager. Follow her on Twitter at @rosaeliasnajri.