Thursday, September 22, 2011


A much-neglected Scripture passage is 1 Timothy 2:1-2: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." Americans have turned their traditional right to question "all those in authority" into a pandemic of brutal authority-bashing. No boss or teacher escapes backbiting; disrespect for parents is actively encouraged in many a therapist's office; and the worst examples among clergy, law officers, and politicians are held up as standard. As for the highest authority in the land--the current President of the United States, and at least the two immediately before him, have been plagued nonstop with "impeach him" cries and with accusations of being everything evil up to and including the Antichrist.

(No, I don't want to argue any of these men's actual faults or fitness for the presidency. St. Paul wrote the 1 Timothy lines during the imperial reign of Nero, who made the worst of U. S. presidents look like saints.)

No one in authority, it seems, gets credit for good intentions. No one gets acknowledgement for positive accomplishments. Too many Christians' idea of prayer for authority stops at "remove him from office" or "change his mind [to correspond to my notion of what's right]"--the same way most of us "pray for" our enemies, which says a lot about how we regard authority figures. If they give us what we want when we want it, we take it for granted; if they don't, we believe only the worst about them.

Small wonder, with such attitudes toward human authority, that we treat the ultimate Authority no better. Eve swallowed whole the implication that God's command was a selfish attempt to keep her from the best option; Cain got angry enough to kill when God urged him to "do what is right"; Jacob turned swindler because he doubted God would keep His "you will be the head of your family" promise; the Israelites in the wilderness whined "God hates us" at every problem and inconvenience--the list continues through the Bible, through history, and up to the present day. The problem is rooted not only in mistrust but in ingratitude: if we really appreciated what God has already done for us, we wouldn't find it so hard to believe He cares enough to continue giving His best. If we weren't so distracted by schemes to obtain a bite of the forbidden fruit, we could be wholeheartedly enjoying the beauties of the garden.

Life will never get better until our attitudes do.

God gave manna to His children
Every day for years and years--
And they whined about the menu
Till they ate the bread of tears.

God sent Jesus to redeem us
From the power of death and hell--
And we whine for ease and riches,
Making life an empty shell.

We demand mere earthly treasures,
And pursue our fleshly schemes--
While God longs to give us blessings
Far beyond our wildest dreams.

Put aside your thankless whining;
Seek the Lord with joy and praise--
Only then will true contentment
Shower upon you all your days.

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