1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, (1 Tim 2:1-3)
I've been thinking about an appropriate Christian response to the HST. On the one hand, I understand the anger that exists because of the way this tax was introduced. At least one MLA has dubbed it the 'Hated Sales Tax', which at the very least is probably a reasonable assessment. That said, I'm also very troubled when I see/hear fellow believers expressing their hatred of the government because of this tax. Perhaps I'm idealistic but it seems to me that the Church has a responsibility to rise to something higher than simply being swept along with the masses in their outrage.
I understand that no one, me included, likes or wants to pay more taxes. That said, I'm also very aware that we have a clear mandate to pray for those who are in authority over us. I don't think it's possible to honestly pray for people you hold in contempt. I also don't think it's possible to speak negatively in strong terms against those you are genuinely praying for. Something happens to us when we legitimately stand in the gap for other people and we are changed in the way we feel about them.
We need to learn to separate politics from politicians. Politics is the art or science of governing. Politicians are the people who serve within the system. It's okay to disagree with a political decision or direction. You can even vote against it or against the person who implemented it. However, its not okay to make your disagreement personal in the sense that your heart is bitter and your comments become derogatory.
I think it's important for us to recognize the context in which Paul wrote 1 Tim. The Jews were living under Roman occupation. The Romans were hardly noted for their compassionate touch towards those they had conquered. The people were oppressed. Their taxes were shipped off to Rome to further the ambitions of the empire. Those who opposed the government were put to death or had to hide in the wilderness. It's within this context that Paul encourages Timothy (and us...) to pray for those who are in authority over us.
My challenge to you today is simple. We have a greater role than simply settling for the status quo of the masses. We alone hold the mandate to pray for our government. Let's get back to doing the one thing that matters most. Our entire province will benefit as a result.