Today Joe Biden becomes the 46th President of the United States. As Christians, everything we say and do should be guided by scripture — including how we react to our elected leaders. How, then, should Christians respond to President Biden?
1. Pray for President Biden.
President Biden assumes one of the world’s most challenging jobs during one of our nation’s most fractured moments. Christians have a God-given responsibility to pray for him. Paul explains the importance of praying for our leaders:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
As Christians, we need to heed Paul’s words to pray for President Biden and our elected leaders. Pray that President Biden would grow in wisdom, surrounding himself with wise counsel. Pray that he would be a man of integrity, fearing God more than men. Pray for a safe, peaceful transition of power. And, since none of us can know the state of a person’s soul, pray that he would believe in Christ if he hasn’t yet done so.
2. Honor President Biden.
God calls followers of Christ to honor those in authority. Paul addresses the importance of honoring our leaders in his letter to the church at Rome. He writes,
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1)
Paul then explains that governing authorities are “God’s servant[s]” and that God gives us authorities for our good (Romans 13:4). Elsewhere, Peter similarly calls Christians to “be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,” and he calls this act of honoring our leaders “the will of God” (1 Peter 2:13, 15).
In issuing these calls, Paul and Peter were not pandering to the government or excusing wrong behavior. In fact, many of their governing authorities actively persecuted the church; Peter, for example, acknowledged that his readers might suffer for doing the right thing (1 Peter 3:17). Yet both Paul and Peter called believers to honor governing authorities even though these same authorities often opposed the church at every turn.
In the same way, we should honor President Biden and our governing authorities. Does honoring President Biden mean that we agree with him at every point? No, scripture alone forms our convictions. Does it mean that we blindly obey him? No, our greater authority is Christ himself. Does it involve ignoring his faults or mistakes? No, because John the Baptist rightfully pointed out his leader’s public sin (Matthew 14:3-4).
Rather, we honor President Biden (and others in authority) as a posture of the heart in obedience to Christ. We acknowledge the importance of his position. We seek his well-being. And we recognize that our governing authorities may not be perfect, but God gives them to us for our good.
3. Be an agent of reconciliation.
The election may be over, but the fallout remains. Our country is aflame with division and anger. Some of our neighbors are rejoicing about the Biden administration, while others dread it. And no matter which side we find ourselves, we are tempted to despise the other. We view our political adversaries with suspicion, anger and (sometimes) hatred.
Yet God has given Christians the important task of being ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). God calls us to reconcile people’s relationship with God by proclaiming the good news of the gospel. In addition, he calls us to play a role in reconciling people’s relationships with each other.
This task of reconciliation is terribly difficult when we despise our political adversaries. D.A. Carson explains it this way:
When you’re busy hating everybody and denouncing everybody and seeking political solutions to everything it’s very difficult to evangelize, isn’t it? It’s very hard to be compassionate, to look on the crowds as though they’re sheep without a shepherd….
Before we can act as an agent of reconciliation, we must truly love our neighbors. And before we can love them, we must get to know them.
So don’t be content with knowing about your neighbor’s political views. Do the hard work of getting to know them as individuals, incarnating the love of Christ to them, and pointing them to the hope of their Savior.
The election’s wounds and divisions won’t heal themselves. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. Bring the love of Christ to bear on your neighbor.
4. Get involved.
For many of us, our political engagement will end after the inauguration. Or, we’ll limit our political engagement to watching news channels, reading political spinsters and debating on social media.
Yet if we really believe that the public square matters, then our political engagement must continue after the inauguration — and it must extend beyond the computer screen or the television remote. Instead of simply talking about politics, we should get involved.
So raise money for your local pregnancy center. Volunteer at the elementary school. Attend the next city council meeting. Read your local news. Be a positive agent of change in your community. Your local issues are just as important as national concerns, and as a Christian, you have a unique voice to share. You can play an active role in reweaving the social fabric.
Don’t let your political engagement end after the inauguration. Bring your faith to bear on the issues that shape your community.
Consistent, Prayerful, Active
Four years ago, I wrote a similar article, encouraging believers to apply these biblical principles to President Trump. Some of my friends took issue with the post — especially my calls to pray for and honor a President they vehemently disagreed with. Today, perhaps some of my fellow conservatives will be similarly frustrated with the calls to pray for President Biden.
But our responsibility to pray for and honor our leaders doesn’t hinge on who those leaders are. Similarly, our calling to be agents of reconciliation and torchbearers of Christian witness in the public square doesn’t lessen from one administration to the next.
Let’s be consistently prayerful and active — when we agree with our leaders, and when we don’t. And let’s join together to do the hard work on our knees and with our hands.