Radical Obedience

"What Prayer is Appropriate for the Czar?"

In the "Fiddler on the Roof," several men ask their rabbi, "What prayer is appropriate for the Czar?" The rabbi thinks for a second and says, "Lord, keep him far from us!" This illustrates the tension between a religion (Orthodox Judaism) which demands prayers for everything and the burden of having to pray for someone who regularly persecutes you (in their case, Czarist Russia). As born-again Believers, we are faced with a similar dilemma, and many false ideas have been offered. Several decades ago, some Catholic theologians (mostly Jesuits) were advocating something call "Liberation Theology." The basic idea behind this was to bring in the Kingdom of God through revolution and redistribution of wealth. This ideology caught on among Central American peasants and indirectly led to the assassinations of Roman Catholic priests in the 1970. s and 80. s by government forces (the priests often aided communist insurgents). Along the same vein, certain Christians in America advocate terrorism and/or social activism to establish the rule of God. s Law as found in the Bible. The people who hold such views cite Scripture reference and use zeal in their crusades. Many of this persuasion regard America as a new Israel of sorts. From that viewpoint, it wouldn' t be hard to justify a "Just War" to overthrow the Federal Government. Certainly, America is in big trouble in many ways. Abortionists have murdered over thirty million little children. Not only is homosexuality tolerated, it is also praised. Money, pleasure, convenience have become the predominate gods, who are obeyed at all costs. Even the True Church has been infected with the plagues of worldly values, leaving many Christians without sound teaching and edifying fellowship. Now is the time for action! We need to fight for America and help bring about the Reign of Christ in many hearts. This fight is not to be done with bombs, or guns, or even peaceful marches . it is to be done on our knees.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 . "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."

  1. First things first! Notice how Paul. s emphasizes this point. Before we write the letter to our congressman or to the editor of our local newspaper, we need to lift high the issues and individuals who have burdened our hearts. Living in Massachusetts, our leaders need lots of prayer. The majority of politicians express their disgust for "Religious Fanatics" or "Puritans" (which I regard as quite a compliment); they think nothing of tearing us down in their writings and speeches. Yet, every Wednesday night prayer meeting, we have the name of a local leader in our prayer bulletin. We have some real radicals up here . I. m not just bellyaching. Only the People. s Republic of Vermont has more liberal thinking. We need to pray for these misguided and lost souls. If God can part the Red Sea and raise the dead, then our liberal leaders can be saved from their sins. Yes, we pray for Barney Frank! (I actually served the man a cup of coffee in the 80. s at my first job in a local coffee shop.)
  2. It is not an option. When you ask any valid minister of the Gospel what is required for Spiritual growth, he will say "prayer and Bible study." Prayer is central to our lives with the Lord. Yet, we can through periods of prayerlessness. One reason we do this is because we forget that prayer is worship. God wants us to be dependent upon Him. Prayer becomes a vehicle of affirmation to this wonderful dependency. Prayer is also communication. God never tires of listening to us or looking upon us. As long as we approach Him with a humble heart, He will listen to our needs and burdens. And prayer is not just for our benefit. We see Abraham pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah. In the Wilderness, Moses pleads with the Lord not to destroy Israel for their idolatry and murmuring. Prayer also changes situations. David asks for forgiveness for killing Uriah and abusing Bathsheba, and he is forgiven. At one time in my life, I ask the Lord to save me from my sin and became an adopted son of God. Prayer is not an optional activity, especially when it concerns our local and nation leaders. The next time you get frustrated with Bill Clinton, pray for him.
  3. We pray for men who cannot pray for themselves. As children of the Most High, we have access to God. s throne through Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is safe to say that most leaders in this world do not have the same privilege. While the Lord is always willing to save those who come pleading, He never promises to hear the requests of the unsaved. God has put them in power for a purpose. Our leaders have many tough decisions to make and our countries can benefit or suffer. We need to lift up their burdens as they represent and serve us in their offices.
  4. We need to thank God for what He has given us. As much as I hate the lifestyle of the Honorable Barney Frank, I give thanks to the Almighty that the American system has brought safety and freedom. We may cringe to see the mosques and Buddhist temples going up in our towns and cities, but we must defend their religious freedom. If the Wiccans and Pagans lose their rights to worship as they wish, we lose our freedom. Christ. s Great Commission did not include the establishment of Church-controlled government or a government-controlled church the last time I checked. As Baptists, we have a strong heritage of tolerance and freedom from government control. Some missionaries in the Russian Far East told of how they were talking to the local magistrate who allowed them to come into the region. He mentioned how pleased he was to have the Baptist missionaries in the town and not the Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, and other cults. The fact is that this Russian bureaucrat was actually blocking these other groups while bringing in the Baptists. That is not religious freedom. The whole idea of democracy demands majority rule and the protection of minorities.
  5. We pray for peace in the country so that we may be able to worship the Lord in freedom, evangelize without fear, and assemble in worship services. The state of our nation may be terrible, but could it be worse than the Roman Empire under Claudius, Caligula, and Nero? That is the context of Paul. s exhortation. While I believe we should work to end of abortion and prevent the special protections that homosexuals and other perverts want, we should not be working to overthrow governments. While many point to the American War for Independence as an example of righteous revolution, I point to the terrible and monstrous Roman Empire and how the New Testament Church lived within it.

The state of things demands our radical obedience. We need to be praying with power and urgency, asking God for His mighty hand to come upon the hearts of the most wicked of leaders. Pray for Bill Clinton and the rulers of Beijing alike. Here. s a project for all that are reading this article: think of the judge, legislator, or politician who makes you the most angry and then shower that individual with daily prayer. This is not meant to be silly or innovative in any way; the whole point is to encourage us to obey God in how we regard our leaders. From now on, hated leaders should not be objects of derision, but of prayer. Such is radical obedience.

R.N.D. 4/15/1998