19–25 October 2014.
This week’s reading comes from 1 Timothy 2:1–4: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
I think we all know that a popular hobby in Taiwan is complaining about the government. This is especially so at times when we are approaching elections. People quickly divide up into Pan-Blue or Pan-Green supporters, backing the KMT or the DPP, and then they start criticizing the opposing politicians.
In all honesty, politics and political complaining are probably so popular in Taiwan because politicians from both sides have given us so many reasons to be disappointed and angry! Sometimes people think it would be better to just get rid of them all! In the time of the early church, people certainly had terrible and even deadly experiences with their political leaders, even worse than we have today.
But here in 1 Timothy we come across a different idea: that while we should certainly pray for people in the church, we should also pray for all people, Christian and non-Christian, and especially for our political rulers. And these prayers shouldn’t just be: “Oh God, please let my party win!” Instead, the text encourages us to include politicians in our intercessions, in our petitions, and our thanksgivings.
The text does this for two reasons. The first is a very practical one: so that we can live together in peace. Given Taiwan’s horrific political history, we should never underestimate how important political and social peace really is.
But the second reason is just as important: We should pray for politicians because they are also God’s children. When we see them on TV or read about them in the news, it is easy to forget that politicians are also real 3-dimensional people with their own struggles. And because of the power they have, we also want them to know the truth, to know Jesus Christ, and to guide the people and nation in a way that reflects the love and justice of Christ. Regardless of which party is in power, isn’t the compassion and justice of Christ a wonderful goal for us all to strive for?
Pastor Stephen Lakkis