Friday, June 14, 2013

How You Should Speak to a King

What is the expectation that Jesus has of his followers when it comes to a person's response to undesireable political circumstances and leaders?  Rebellion? Sarcasm? Hatred?  Love? Tollerance?  How are we to speak of and to political leaders?  We should all know how to speak to a king.

By reading Facebook feeds or watching national news, it is evident that not everyone is in agreement as to what is acceptable.  The Bible instructs us to 'Let no corrupt communication come from our mouths.'  What is corrupt communication?  It's not merely profanity nor simply coarse speech.  It goes to what comes from the heart.  From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Perhaps you've heard or read Facebook quotes concerning a certain prominent U.S. politician.  If your experience has been like mine, you may have noticed something.  I noticed that the hateful, malicious words of Christians sound just like some of the hateful, malicious words of unbelievers.  Where is the difference?  Where is the divine life of Christ displayed?  Can Christians oppose values and differing political ideologies and remain Christ-like while doing so?  The answer should be 'yes'.  But sometimes I wonder.

We cannot model unkindness. We cannot be consumed with disgust and hatred toward a person we don't agree with. We cannot separate our political rhetoric from our Christian conversation.

What is the biblical basis?  The Old Testament has great examples of how people spoke to kings.  Read Daniel 6 and listen to Daniel's response to Darius whom, after being deceived, had Daniel thrown into the lions den to face certain death.  When Darius checked to see the fate of Daniel, he was greeted with "Oh King live forever!"  The result was Darius decreeing the power and grace of the Hebrews God to his kingdom.

Earlier in Daniel's account we learn of the three Hebrew 'children'.  As the story goes, they refuse to worship Nebuchadnezzar at the appointed time and they now face the fiery furnace.  When brought before the king and questioned, their response wasn't to denigrate the political establishment.  They said, ' we don't need to defend ourselves before you in this matter...even if God doesn't deliver us, we refuse to worship (you).'  Of course the refuse, God delivers them and Nebuchadnezzar declared the majesty of their God throughout his kingdom and even promoted the three young men.

The account of Esther has the Jews oppressed under Xerxes.  Esther, taking her life into her own hands attempts to save the Jews, her countrymen, by seeking an audience with the king.  As she opens her dialogue with the man that, while deceived, authorized the destruction of the Jews, she begins with, "If it pleases the king..."

In the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested, a disciple takes a sword and goes for the head of one of the guards, missing and taking his ear off.  Jesus' response was to chastise the assailing disciple and heal the man's ear.

John the Baptist was opposed to King Herod for his immorality.  He preached the good news and rebuked evil.  In doing so he never stooped to name-calling and insults.  he stuck to the gospel and represented Christ.  John the Baptist was put to death.  He was not delivered like our previous examples.

So while living under undesirable political circumstances, facing and dealing with political entities with unacceptable policies, how is a Christian to respond if and when they have to?  Look at Daniel.  Remember the three Hebrew young men and above all remember Jesus.  To them the political opponent wasn't the enemy.  To them it was always about their God to love, and when the goal is to love and please God in everything, the biblical testimony is that God gets far more accomplished for his purposes.


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