In our second reading this weekend, St Paul calls for the churches to pray for civil authorities. Christians at this time were definitely in the minority, and Paul wanted no conflict with authorities which could hamper the spread of Christianity. He wants prayer to include all people, Christian and non-Christian, in the interests of peace and good order. Early Christians were solicitous about their appearance as good citizens since they did not participate in the government’s official religious cult. Paul asks for prayers for civil leaders on two scores: it will lead to the concession of an undisturbed and respected life for the Christians; it may lead to their leader’s conversion and salvation. Paul hoped that the behaviour of Christians would be so exemplary that even rulers would be attracted to faith in Jesus Christ.
What is the role of Christians regarding civil authorities today? With a general election approaching in this country, how should we respond to the leaders of the various parties competing in the election? Should we pray for them and support them? What about challenging them to rule with Christian values? Are there values so important for us, e.g. abortion, that we would consider ourselves compelled to vote against someone who is opposed to the particular value, even if we agree with their other values? Are there times and situations we should not