[Nov 15]--Real Respect Vs. Kissing Up

Acts 24:1-23

A couple of days ago I mentioned the love-hate relationship the Church has historically had with the Jews. But that’s nothing compared to the troubled relationship we’ve had with the State. And as we’ve seen before, humanity is like Luther’s drunk man on a horse, falling off one side, dusting himself off, then falling off the other side when he “corrects” himself. We really have real trouble keeping our balance.

That’s really illustrated here in the stark contrast we see in the Jews’ opening statement versus Paul’s. Do you know the term obsequious? It’s a four-dollar word for a kiss-up. I could use other more colorful terms, but I'll forbear. You know what I’m referring to. And if you look up the word in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of these guys.

In case you’re wondering, Felix was not the greatest governor Rome ever had. They had worse, but he was recalled for misrule after two years. So when they’re starting their speech, they’re being extremely flattering.

Paul, on the other hand, displays a great balance here. He’s respectful for the man’s position. But he’s not a kiss-up, nor is he showing any personal animosity towards either the man or the Roman Government which he represents. Just a simple “I recognize your exalted position over this area” and then he gets to his point quickly.

The rest of this we’re pretty familiar with, so I want to camp out on that for a moment. All too often Christians fall off on one side of this issue or the other. As I’ve said, I listen to political talk radio quite often. If someone criticizes the President, you have people calling immediately to defend him, and quite frankly it almost sounds like those Jewish leaders in today’s reading. He can do no wrong, and any criticism of him has some other agenda besides what’s best for the country.

On the other hand, a lot of talk show hosts which I could name fell off on the other side a few years ago. The President is a secret Muslim or a secret Communist, and is in on a plot to destroy the United States or its economy. And don’t forget the fact that he was really born in Kenya and isn’t even qualified to be President. Uh huh. That’s the reason why I’m very picky about who I listen to.

Look, we can have a discussion on whether or not you agree with the President’s policies (maybe on my other blog). But whether or not you agree with him, you need to keep your discourse civil. Ask yourself how you reacted a couple of years ago when there was a President from another party in power. When the last President did something you heartily disagreed with, how did you talk about him?

What’s the biblical approach here? Again, you must respect the position of authority, even if you disagree with the policies of the person in that position. Even if, as was the case with King Saul, the man in charge is not worthy of that responsibility. That’s not a piece of advice. That’s what the Bible tells us to do.

And here’s a radical concept. Instead of just pining away for the next election when you can get rid of the jerk who’s in office, why not change him right now? There’s one avenue of doing that which most Christians haven’t tried, as far as I can see. If you're so dissatisfied with the man in office, why not try to change his character through prayer?  If he’s a Christian, then he’s your brother. If he’s not, then he’s a soul for whom Christ bled and died. Again, this is not Dear Abby giving you advice. This is a command straight from God through his servant Paul: “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.”

So, do you need to do some repenting?

Father God, please set a guard over my tongue. May it be used only in your service, and never the Enemy’s.

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