Thursday, November 28, 2013

And this is why we pray for them ...

"AwRIGHT, boysngirls, catsnchicks! This next one's going out to those two GROOVY guys, Rob Ford and Stephen Harper! Doug and the Slugs: "TOO BAD!"

The lyrics started coming back to me in the past week, watching the situation at Toronto City Hall and on Parliament Hill. Two politicians who obviously thought they were invincible, being brought down by forces within. (I'm sure Allan Fotheringham, who wrote Look Ma ... No Hands! about the Progressive Conservative Party, would refer to the Tories' Internal Destruction Engine being at work again.) Stateside, a recent piece of punditry laid out the decline in popularity and influence currently being experienced by President Obama.

But while it's quite obviously fun to watch the mighty fall or to distance ourselves from leaders with declining popularity (during Richard Nixon's waning days in the White House, license plate frames were spotted on cars from Massachusetts reading, "DON'T BLAME US"*), as Christians, we're called to act counter to our base human nature and lift these people up to God.

Aside from the fact that we're commanded to do so -- as Paul writes, "... all ... prayers ... and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quit and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence." (1 Tim. 2:1-2) -- there's another extremely important reason for doing this. Whether we like it or not, these people are in charge of our countries and our lives. The current public circuses notwithstanding, they still are tasked with making decisions that affect us, both directly and indirectly.

Obviously, they can't do it in their own power. Who can? That's why they need God on their side, and we need to call Him in.

There's a passage in "Too Bad" that goes, "All your money/Was just insulation"; but I'm certain I've heard a version where Doug sings, "Was the Bible/No more than insulation ...?": a suggestion that when one gets caught, one falls back on references to the Bible. Rob Ford claimed he's had a "Jesus moment" about his drug use. Stephen Harper is a church-goer and I know many Christians supported him initially because they felt he'd bring Godliness to Sussex Drive.

I can't judge either, although given the laundry list of people we're supposed to avoid that Paul spells out in 2 Timothy 3, one has to wonder whether these are the sort of people the PM has surrounded himself with. But I, too, had several "Jesus moments" when I started coming to grips with my own sins and misdeeds. Talking about a "Jesus moment" may seem like a cynical play of the holy "Get Out Of Jail Free" Card, but so many of us only have those moments when our backs are against the wall, so I'm in no position to judge the Toronto mayor.

So Point One: we have to suppress our desire to snicker and gossip about the situations surrounding Leaders Behaving Badly and recognize that they are in trouble and as they go, so go we.

Point Two: we're the ones who elected them (no - DON'T say, "I didn't vote for them!" - that's not the point), so we need to pray for wisdom and for truth to be revealed during election campaigns so that, when we go into the polling booth, we vote for the person God wants us to vote for.

Once they're elected, we have to keep praying that God will give them strength and the tools to do the job and that He'll take care of the things they can't. Remember that the ark God commanded Noah to build was only 150 feet long by 25 feet wide and 15 feet high. Somehow, 14 of every clean animal and 2 each of every unclean animal, plus 14 each of every species of birds had to come to Noah and be crammed into the boat. But that part wasn't Noah's job: it was God who made that happen. God lays out a situation that needs to be solved, but He doesn't give the humans involved any more than they can personally handle. He takes care of the rest. We need to apply that thinking to our politics.

I've long believed that God puts the people in power that He wants to be in power, and sometimes, it serves to expose a reality that we've ignored, whether wittingly or no. The trick, if you can call it that, is to seek God for the reasons, and if they don't become apparent, get to your knees and pray for those leaders.

Pray, for example, that Rob Ford's "Jesus moments" continue and that he comes through this a changed man and Toronto comes through stronger than before. Pray that the evil surrounding Stephen Harper is cleared away and the good that is in the man (and I believe there is plenty) will be revealed and will triumph. And pray that politicians of all stripes, whether in power or no, will shake off the current fleshly concern with beating the other side and remember that there is a country to lead and ultimately, it's God who assigned them to do it.

*Massachusetts was the one state that Nixon did not carry in the 1972 US Presidential election.