Another round violence is making the nightly news cycle. At this moment, there are more questions than answers. While political activity and government policies are important, we must not lose sight of the real center of power.
The Apostle Paul instructs that we pray for governing authorities:
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… I Tim. 2:1-2 ESV
Why would Paul want to pray for intercession for the Caesar’s and their followers? At least one reason is that government leaders are not placed in power by their own will. (Romans 13:1) God placed them in their role as leaders.
Leaders may have schemed and maneuvered to attain their place of authority, but they serve at God’s pleasure, whether they recognize this truth or not. And if they fail to recognize they serve at the pleasure of God, they govern by pride. This is why Paul says we should intercede in prayer for our leaders. Leaders who are dominated by pride, as the Caesars were, are leaders who govern at their own peril. One result of this kind of leadership is that it will be more difficult for God’s people to lead a peaceful and quiet life, which is what Paul says we should be praying for.
Paul is urging Christians to remember who is really in charge, even if governing authorities appear to be able to do whatever they chose. Paul is saying to stay focused. God is in charge. Paul is praying that our leaders would embrace the wisdom of Nebuchadnezzar. Why? Because when faced with crisis, the king had biblical clarity.
“…At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. Daniel 4:34-37 NIV
God is able to make those who walk in pride to walk in humility! Surely, this is needed now whether the setting is Baltimore, Ferguson, or the halls of Washington, D.C.
These words are instructive to the people of God throughout history. They are instructive now. Our leaders serve at the decree of God. These words in Daniel should bring great comfort to God’s people in troubling, unprecedented times. Things are not out of control. God’s power is not diminished. He is the same God who humbled Nebuchadnezzar and spoke the Universe into existence. We should continue to pray as Paul directs in I Timothy. Paul’s confidence came from his knowledge that he was speaking directly to the one Who is really in charge. You can have this same confidence. Let’s see what may happen if we pray as the Holy Spirit instructs in I Timothy 2!