Notwithstanding the reality that the soldier of Jesus Christ has a heavenly citizenship and is an alien in this world, we do occupy a place in this natural world. We are spread throughout this world and we live under the governance of the country in which we dwell. As an American, who still enjoys a semblance of freedom offered by our Constitution, what attention and effort am I accountable to extend towards my earthly citizenship? Is there a biblical mandate to participate and support or oppose the changing laws and policies of the land in which I live?
For many decades now, America has enjoyed some real prosperity. With that prosperity has come a significant affluence and turning toward relaxation, entertainment and luxury. I would posit that this affluence has dulled our sensibilities to important issues that affect our lives on a grander scale. It would seem that the ‘easy life’ has drawn our attention away from maintaining the foundation and framework of the freedom we enjoy by the very fruit of this freedom. How is it that America became a strong and prosperous nation? Why was personal/private property ownership a significant aspect of our growth as a country? What did the establishment of our Constitution do in providing America with the framework for healthy governance? What about national sovereignty, a democratic republic and a government for the people by the people?
In the USA, the Constitution is the “Supreme Law” of the land, and all elected and appointed positions of power within our government are required to take an oath to the Constitution. A legitimate question we can and should ask is, are our govenment officials working within and in support of our Constitution or are they working outside and contrary to it? Once we’ve asked and legitimately answered this question, what is our responsibility to respond?
Several scriptures come to mind as I think through these issues. The analogy in 2 Timothy 2:4, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” This really calls me to consider what I am most committed to… the eternal or the temporal. I’m keeping this Word close to help me guard my heart and mind as I think through these things. I Timothy 2:1,2 also remind me of my responsibility to pray 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.” And then there is Romans 13. It seems that if there was any straightforward, clear and concise word on this matter, it is Romans 13:1-4.
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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
(Romans 13:1-4 ESV)
Okay… no need to go any further. I have my marching orders, right? But… (with humility), what about Hitler, what about Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Yes, the evil visited on the Jews was outrageous and appalling and so it seems easy to justify opposition to the government in this instance but what about the subversive evil being carried out today in America (as well as around the world)? Keep in mind here, that I am not arguing the point of God’s sovereignty in all these matters. Cyrus was not above or outside God’s purposes or power, rather King Cyrus was part of God’s purpose and plan (Isaiah 45). But what was(then)… and what is(now) a right response for the child of God through Jesus Christ with regard to earthly governance?
Admittedly, this matter continues to challenge and confound me, so my post here is both a tabling of my thoughts as well as an invitation to you to bring me to God’s word to better understand the answers God has given to the unresolved questions that continue on for me today.
Additionally, there is someone who I will sort of quote below whose opinion I value. He is a wonderful pastor who has demonstrated a significant degree of integrity in his life and the sermons he preaches… Pastor John MacArthur.
Posting from elsewhere (I apologize for not having the link to refer to)…
John MacArthur, an internationally-known and highly respected pastor and theologian, says that the Romans 13 principle of being “subject to the governing authorities” is “unqualified, unlimited, and unconditional.”
I’m tempted to add some video clips that highlight the matters of concern I have regarding our country and the evils being carried out against the unaware citizens of this country and those around the world who are impacted as well, but for now I would rather hold back from that. Anyone can offer an opinion and I don’t want to have to speak for folks I have no knowledge of.
For now, this post will remain both a laying out of a concern I am wrestling through and an invitation to all who would offer a biblical response that may prove helpful to me and others and that will bring God the most glory.