As I’m sure most people have heard, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. I first heard the news on Fox News. If you are not aware of the details, you can read an article here.
Now, so there is no confusion, let me state this succinctly and unequivocally: I am not a fan of Ted Kennedy. I do not agree with his politics, I do not approve of the way his family made its fortune, I do not agree with his political tactics, and I do not like him. I believe there is an attitude of entitlement and the-rules-don’t-apply-to-me mentality exuded by the Senator. To see an accounting of his life, look here.
My personal feelings, however, are not the issue. Scripture, as always, is the issue.
In I Timothy 2, the Apostle Paul writes:
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Paul is telling us we have to pray for our leaders. Praying for our leaders is not optional and we are not to pray only for the leaders we agree with or our “favorite” leaders.
But, here’s the hard thing–think of the broader context of when Paul was writing. Who were the “kings” and “those in high positions” Paul was writing about?
- Pagan Roman Emperors who persecuted and killed Christians.
- Pagan local “kings” who were, most likely, hostile to Christianity
How are we supposed to pray for these people? We are supposed to intercede for them; we are supposed to ask God for things for them; and we are supposed to thank God for them.
I know there are some cold-hearted conservatives who are singing songs similar to “Hi ho the witch is dead.” And, no doubt, the celebrations will continue long after the Senator’s eulogy is given and his headstone erected. It is a sin for a Christian to do this and, as Christians, we must not be this way!
In the first place, if it were not for God’s unimaginable and unfathomable grace, we might find ourselves in the very same situation as Senator Kennedy. None of us is perfect and we all deserve to die gruesome horrible deaths because of our sinfulness. It is only because of God’s grace that we, even we redeemed, regenerate Christians, are not already dead.
Secondly, Senator Kennedy is a person made in the Image of God. As such, whether we like him or not, we must pray for him. He is an image bearer and deserves to be treated and prayed for as such.
Third, Christians are supposed to embody the “Golden Rule” which says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets…” (Matthew 7:12). I’m fairly certain that any Christian with this type of medical ailment and the not-so-optimistic prognosis would want people praying for them, not singing joyously of our demise.
Finally, as we see in Scripture, we must be people that pray for our leaders, whether we like them or not. Paul likely prayed for the very Emperor who signed his execution order. We must do the same thing. Notice one of Paul’s concerns in praying for the Kings of his day was salvation. It is almost as if Paul is saying, “Pray for the Roman Emperor for even through your prayers, the Emperor might come to Christ.”
Knowing about Senator Kennedy’s life and history, it is difficult to see the fruit of a regenerate life–but only God knows his spiritual condition. As Christians, we must pray that Senator Kennedy will be brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and show the fruit of a life lived in repentance and faith. As Christians, we also must pray for his physical health and well-being and for his healing.
Don’t let your praying stop with Senator Kennedy–pray for all elected officials, both national and local, even if they are not your favorite people and even if you don’t agree with their political views.