Donald Trump was inaugurated on January 20th as the 45th president of the United States. Of course, this has been a contentious election cycle. And the drama carried into the inauguration. A number of prominent senators and other important persons did not show up for the ceremony. Some took the opportunity to launch toxic attacks over cabinet appointments. Many have refused to acknowledge Trump as “their president.” It leads one again to ask the bigger question – “How should a believer respond to a governmental leader of questionable character?”
Scripture urges us to pray for kings and all those in authority and to live quiet lives (1 Timothy 2:1-2). The Roman rulers of first century were openly antagonistic to God and the church. And yet the apostle Paul urges believers to live at peace. Don’t be argumentative. Don’t stir controversy. Don’t launch verbal grenades on social media. Don’t be a jerk.
The Puritan Richard Baxter addressed this very issue in his day and gave instructions on how to live at peace. He notes that a passionate person “is frequently provoking or provoked. A little thing makes him violent toward others and a little injury from others stirs him up.” * It takes great discipline to converse with people without provoking people.
The apostle Paul calls us to peace because the gospel is at stake (1 Timothy 2:3-4). A gracious spirit creates an environment where people are drawn to Jesus. You have to assess the cost of your conduct. You might be able to win the political arguments. But if you become known as a chronically angry and malcontent person, you have turned people off to the gospel. It’s simply not worth it.
*Richard Baxter, A Christian Directory, 821 (my translation).
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