The Christian and the King
By: Deji Yesufu
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty – Apostle Paul
When political pundits comment on an approaching election anywhere in the world, they mostly give the impression that that election will make or mar that country. They tell us: except the people get electing their leaders right, the country will very likely fail. Unfortunately history has not been on the side of these political watchers. North Korea is regarded as the worst country to live in the world today. The Kim dynasty that rule that country began in the 1940s when the grandfather of their present ruler came to power. In spite of how grim things are in that country, the nation is still in existence. Countries have encountered wars, disease, famine, etc, and they have emerged at the other side better and stronger. There is a lot more that holds countries together and Christians believe that the ultimate ruler of nations is God. This is the reason why above all we do through our civic duties of voting and serving our country, Christians trust God more in the place of prayer.
The political permutation in the forthcoming election in Nigeria shows that Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the foremost contender at the polls. There are many reasons to believe Tinubu will win the elections. First, Tinubu is from the ruling party. In Nigeria, the power of incumbency is one of the strongest determinants of who gets to power. Second, is the political dexterity of Tinubu himself. His joining forces with Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 was a well calculated attempt to install himself in government following Buhari’s tenure in office. Lastly, Nigerian politics is still one run by the person with the biggest money chest. Save for Atiku Abubakar, there is no one in this country who can match Tinubu dollar for dollar in the coming election. While I do not support the presidency of Tinubu, and I pray earnestly that he does not win, I have resigned myself to the possibility of his coming to power and this essay is to help those thinking in a similar with me to prepare for such eventuality. I am a Christian and I believe that there is a relationship between the Christian and the king.
The quote by Apostle Paul at the start of this article is taken from 1 Timothy 2. That epistle, written by Paul to Timothy, was written at a time when Nero was Emperor of Rome. It is safe to say that Nero was the Kim Jun-Un of his day. Nero was an irresponsible king who will later earn the reputation of fiddling away while half of Rome burnt to the ground. After the incident, Nero blamed Christians for the fire as he tried to evade suspicion from himself – it is believed that Nero started the fire. Nero, it was, who put Apostle Paul to trial and ultimately beheaded him. Nero was a hedonist, who spent most his time as king satisfying his pleasure. He died eventually at age 31 from a heart attack during one his sex orgies. Yet, it was for this man, and individuals like him that Paul said Christians should pray. I believe that Paul made this admonition not for the sake of the king himself but so that “…we may lead a quiet and peaceable life…”
This is why we pray for kings. The Christian prays for the king so that we may have peace within the domain we live in. Where there is peace, people can build. God made Solomon a man of peace so that he might be able to build the temple that his father David had wished to build in his lifetime. Where there is peace, the Christian and the church where we function in can build to the glory of God. The first thing we build is personal godliness. In a time of peace, we learn the art of prayer; we learn to walk in charity towards others; we build a Christian home – raising children in godliness; and finally we build a community of God’s people – we build a church gathering of believers that can pray together and worship.
A second thing that Christians build in a time of peace is that we build evangelical efforts to the unsaved. Paul puts it this way: “1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth…” He is saying living a life of quiet and peace will allow for building evangelistic efforts that will bring men to the knowledge of the truth. While in God’s sovereignty men can believe the gospel anytime, naturally speaking the probability of men grasping the gospel in a time of peace is higher than in a time of conflict.
So the duty of the Christian man is to pray for the king. As we approach our elections, our duty is to pray that God gives this country leaders. The three front contenders in the coming election in Nigeria are Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi – in that order. Anyone of these three men can be president. But it is God that knows the hearts of men and he alone knows who will create an environment around which Christians will have quietness and peace. We may think that Peter Obi is the one but God alone knows.
Nigerians head to the polls in February 2023. It is interesting to note that the concept of democracy, where we vote in leaders into a tenured period, is one that begun only some three hundred years ago. My point is that most Christians in Church History have functioned under autocratic monarchies – the government of one man; and it is interesting to note that the Church had flourished in spite of these kings and their evil decrees.
The church in Nigeria has it a lot better today than Christians in other times. We need not fear a Muslim-Muslim leadership. If Bola Tinubu comes to power, then he is God’s will for us as a Church. We will pray for his government to succeed. We will pray that in his time we will have peace and quiet. We will pray that godliness will increase in the churches and Christian missions will abound in our day such as to bring the knowledge of the truth to the hearts of sinners.
The calling of the Christian for serving an earthly king is a spiritual calling where we pray that the will and plans of our heavenly King will be done over and above the will of an earthly king. Amen.