Respect the Office

Oval OfficesmNero became Emperor of Rome in 54AD at the age of 17. History suggests that he ordered the death of both his mother and his first wife. He tortured and executed many Christ-followers after the great Roman fire of 67AD. Nero’s reputation as a madman was so extensive that some early Christian theologians believed that he was the antichrist who would one day return and bring destruction.

Nero was Emperor when Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, which is what makes these words from that letter so extraordinary:

First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God. This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Savior. – 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Did you catch that? Paul actually requested that the faith community pray for Nero, that God would help him and bless him. While Paul was no doubt concerned about the safety of the fledgling Christian community I suspect that Paul also had something we are increasingly lacking: respect for the office. Perhaps that respect came from Paul’s belief that God puts rulers into their places of power (Romans 13:1-2)

I’m increasingly concerned about the political polarization in our nation, and I’m deeply dismayed by the disgraceful disrespect shown by some Christ-followers toward politicians, especially the President. I’m grateful to live in a country in which we can publicly disagree with people in power and their policies. But while we may have the legal right to personally insult our leaders and call them names, it only further divides our nation. And it certainly isn’t a faithful thing to do.

If Paul can call the early Christians to pray for Nero then we can certainly pray for those in political office in our nation, no matter what their political position or ours.

So let’s be careful with our words. Let’s think twice about what we post on social media. Let’s take Paul’s challenge seriously and pray for all leaders, no matter what their political party, that God would help and bless them. Even if you don’t respect their policies at least respect the office.

Jeff Marian is Lead Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

Recent Posts
Showing 2 comments
  • A powerful reminder. Thank you.

  • Curt Carlson

    I totally agree. Well said.