Thought for the Month (June 2010)
So, who would have thought that those crosses would create such a furore? We went along and made our mark but did anybody get the result they wanted? The commentators said that no-one won, everybody lost and proceeded to tell us at great length what it all meant and what we would expect as a result of this most unexpected of outcomes of our General Election. How many words have been written and spoken on this subject I wonder? If I had a penny for each one I'm sure I would be a millionaire several times over!
Now I'm going to add a few more - I hope you're not groaning or worse still switching off because I think they are very important to all of us regardless of the colour of our politics.
In this, the United Reformed Church's year of focusing on prayer, I am reminded that Paul writing to Timothy said, "First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, requests and thanksgivings be offered to God for all people; for kings and all others who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceful life with reverence towards God and with proper conduct. This is good and it pleases God our Saviour." (1 Timothy 2: 1-3).
Whether or not we like the shape of the new government, they are now in authority and from these verses we can see that it pleases God that we pray for them. Prayer is the way that we can bring God into a situation and we don't need to be told by all the talking heads that they are going to need all the help they can get. Any coalition whether it be a marriage, in business or as in this instance, a government, throws up difficulties. In a marriage there is the love element which helps two parties to resolve their differences. Our new government is starting from a totally different point. Maybe there are people desperate to be in power or maybe they do want the good of the country. Either way they are going to have to work hard at working together.
In Romans 13: 1-2 Paul writes, "Everyone must obey the state authorities because no authority exists without God's permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God." He would have had the Roman Empire in mind when he wrote those verses but it is a principle we can apply to our situation. If we truly believe that God is at work in our world we have to see His hand in the result of the election.
When we read the Old Testament we see times when God used authorities to help the Israelites. Two notable instances can be found in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah where we read how they were able to restore life and worship in Jerusalem, rebuild the temple and the walls because they were allowed to by Cyrus and Artaxerxes - both emperors of Persia where the people were in exile.
Nehemiah, of course, was a great man of prayer and if you have the chance to read the book, do - it's quite short, only 13 chapters. The first chapter contains his prayers showing his concern for Jerusalem and ends with the words, "Give me success today and make the emperor merciful to me." Nehemiah 1: 11. He acknowledged that Artaxerxes had authority over him and prayed that God would make him sympathetic towards his request to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. In chapter 2:8 Nehemiah says, "The emperor gave me all I asked for, because God was with me."
So, God is with us and if we get busy praying who knows what God will do in our country through the government He has given us. There has been much talk about fairness and justice by some of our politicians and surely these are things close to God's own heart. Let's pray that the words become a reality.
When Paul wrote to Timothy he used the verb to 'urge' which is much stronger than to 'ask'. It's much more emphatic showing that Paul was saying "Look, this important and not optional." With our focus on prayer this year we have the opportunity to develop the whole idea of praying for those in authority over us and to see what God will do.
Final words - Pray! Pray! Pray!
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