Point of Reference
by Fred Price
"Don't be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition,
present your requests to God." - Philippians 4:6
There are times when those in authority over us make decisions we don't understand; either because they have information we don't, they have no regard for what we do know and feel or because they truly understand both sides of the issue and still choose to do it their way. At times, usually when our demands are being met or our needs addressed, we fully agree and support those who represent our country; our ideas, our goals and our accomplishments. But that consensus is rare these days.
Decisions have been made. They aren't going to be changed. Regardless of your feelings about the ensuing war and political maneuvering, our governing authorities have spoken. As Christians, regardless of political affiliation or preference concerning the actions taken by our government, the one clear call for us is to pray.
We are specifically called on to submit to the authority placed over us. Pray for understanding consideration, pray for wisdom, pray for patience. Theirs and ours. Pray for peace; either a continuance of or a quick restoration to. Pray for safety; for ourselves, for our leaders and certainly for those called upon to enforce and restore that peace through a time of armed conflict. Pray that God's will - will be sought and mankind made better as a result. Pray that we can submit our wills to God and make the most of whatever the circumstances bring our way; which doesn't mean we will all absolutely agree or give up on our personal sense of right or wrong.
There are channels for the expression of dissatisfaction and disagreement. Avenues for change are available, if you are patient and persistent, willing to work long and hard. But even that will take prayerful consideration and prayer reinforced commitment.
I would suggest as well that we pray for Saddam Hussein and the people he represents; that he sees reason, takes compassion on his own people, turns from his hatred of the West and it's institutions of personal and religious freedom. We are told to, "Love (our) enemies and pray for those who persecute (or harm) you, " (Matthew 5:44) We are called upon to, " bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.", as well. (Luke 6:28) Essentially to pray that they might see the light and right of our considerate, patient witness (1 Peter 2:15) and be turned to the truth of the gospel, the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Jesus' admonition of, "Give to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is God's." (Matthew 22:21), became, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men " (1 Peter 2:13) " for there is no authority except that which God has established." (Romans 13:1b) (Note that this doesn't say that every regime is approved of, deserving unquestioned allegiance; but that the institution of authority is sanctioned among all peoples and governments. See Romans 13:1-5)
The parable of the persistent widow is a pertinent example for those who believe change is needed as well as for those who believe justice must be sought universally; whether in support of our leaders or in spite of them. She kept on doing what needed doing, even in the face of an unresponsive bureaucracy, till her petition was granted and justice was served. She didn't quit nor merely rebel. What she did do was to, " always pray and not give up." (Luke 18:1-8)
Paul, living in equally perilous and contradictory times declared, "I urge, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, (who were often hostile to him and Christianity) that we may live peaceful and quiet lives " (1 Timothy 2:2) Surely we can all agree with that!
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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