Christian Living, Faith

The Fine Line: Tearing Down Government Leaders

Today marks 100 days since President Joe Biden took office. Media will be posting all types of statistics to help shape our personal opinion of the President, some of them based on the opinions of others.

It’s a tempting today for people to jump online and look for ways to fill their social media ammunition buckets. There will be posts to rave about the President and others to tear him down. Comparisons will be made to past leaders. Fact-checkers will be busy proving and disproving stats. And President Biden will be judged against the promises he made while campaigning.

Which side will Christians be on? Both. Unfortunately, we will join the masses in picking political fights, debating and arguing with each other, all with the name of Jesus attached to us.

I defined the idea of The Fine Line we walk as Christians a little while back. Here is a great example of it in action. Choosing whether or not to tear down our government leaders.

The Allure of Choosing Sides

The political climate in North America is one where we are continually forced to choose sides. Division is the name of the game. Regardless of the level of politics involved, from the White House to a small Town Hall, we not only have to choose sides, but the culture asks us to announce it.

We are told it is not only right to have our own opinion, to share it everywhere we can. Social Media posts. Lawn signs. Bumper stickers. Hats and t-shirts.

For some reason we are eager go along with it. Why? For the sake of validation and belonging. We want to be part of something bigger, and politics give us a springboard. Once we find a candidate or party to fit with our ideals and hopes for a better tomorrow, we will go to war for them.

And we do. We pull out our sharpest weapon and put it to work. In person we use our tongue, and online we use our keyboard.

But online we have protection. There is no looking into the face of our opponents and seeing them cringe as we lob hateful words we would never say to anyone’s face. We take on not one, but several other-minded people at the same time. Sadly, we seem to enjoy the battle.

The One Falling

It is interesting to think we can change each others’ minds. When has that ever worked? Hostility, anger, name calling, threats, or denigrating the intelligence of others is no way to when a friend or ally.

We hope to bring the star down from the pedestal by fighting for what we believe about them, sharing what the fact-checkers have to say, or by digging up past statements or failures. Do you know who is really the one falling? It is the one doing all spewing.

How many friends have you silenced on Facebook for their hostility towards leaders, whether those in government or those in the church (which we will talk about another time)? You can only take so much of it. At various moments in the political we see people post an announcement similar to, “I’m trimming down my friends list. Can’t handle the negativity. Still love yas, but gotta keep things positive.”

I’ve done it, unfollowing or unfriending people just to keep what they think they have to defend out of my view. I man not even disagree with the point, but I can no longer endure seeing or reading the way they do it.

The Other Side of the Line

There is another side to the line. Silence.

Wait a minute. That’s what social media is for. I’m entitled to my opinion. People just need to get over themselves. Someone has to share the truth.

Did any of those responses slip through your mind at the suggestion of silence? Deep inside it seemed un-American, a kind of censoring, or just plain wrong? You might have fallen on the wrong side of the fine line.

We have let our ideas about democracy overrule the plainness of Scripture. The culture’s concept of the individual has shadowed the Bible’s message of humility. We have taken Apostolic messages of warning to believers as a license to proclaim an individual Christian’s feelings of poor or bad faith leadership to the masses.

But what does Scripture about all of this?

Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.

Romans 13:1, CSB

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior …

1 Timothy 2:1-3, CSB

Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

1 Peter 2:17, CSB

Okay, so I was wrong. The opposite of announcing the faults of our government is not silence. It is honoring and praying for them. And you thought being quiet was hard to swallow.

“Honor the emperor”

Just a couple of things here, and you can go back to your social media feed and decide what or how much you’d like to share about President Biden’s first 100 days in office.

The emperor was not just some elected official. He was often ruthless and took his seat of power in violent ways. He was worshiped as a god. Later they would lash out at believers across the Empire, blaming them for atrocities they did not commit and killing them for following Jesus wholeheartedly.

You might think this command came from Paul, who understood the value of his Roman citizenship during his arrest and imprisonment. He traveled freely as a missionary, and used the postal system to write to churches. He was even able to live under house arrest instead of in a prison pit.

No, it was written by Peter. The man who knew a thing or two about denying Jesus. He learned and relearned the Gentiles held the same place as the Jews under Christ. And Peter knew about how speaking up for what he thought and believed might be returned with a rebuke: “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23).

What does honor mean? The original Greek word is about assigning value, esteem or preciousness (click here for more from Bible Hub).

We are called to live on the side of the line we are least inclined to. As Christians we are clearly told to build up and promote our leaders, not tear them down.

Want to know a secret? This is a huge temptation of mine.

American history is one of my top interests, and I own and have read many biographies about the founding fathers and creation of the nation. I like to think I know a thing or two about what the United States was create to be. I also have a degree in Biblical Studies and am ordained minister. I like to think I know some things about the Bible’s plan for us and how to live on this earth.

But should I really be spewing it all over and tearing others down? Not a chance. So I have gaps between my posts at times. I think silence is better than being negative. Some of my thoughts are actually not worth sharing, and I know it.

What about you? Are you sure you should be sharing all of your thoughts? Does doing so do more harm to you or the name of Jesus than you consider? Are you building up or tearing down?

Here’s a quick test for you. Before you post anything about a government leader, pray for them. Take 10 seconds and say a simple prayer:

Father God, I pray for _____.
They are in the spotlight today for _____.
Bless them, give them wisdom, and protect them.
Help me to respond with love and honor.
In Jesus name, Amen.