Christians and Politics

I ran across this article last night in one of the Google+ communities that I am a part of. This post by Elden Miller, really hit home because of how I view the authorities appointed over us over the last 10 – 15 years or so….probably longer than that when I first started taking some interest of who was President. I feel that is article needs to be shared AND understood by my brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you want to comment on this article, please do so by clicking this link. It will open a new window to the original post. You may comment here as well but I urge you to comment on the original post so that the writer may answer any questions you may have.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Christians and Politics

– Photo courtesy of http://www.firstlight1.blogspot.com

Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

There is enough in this one statement to fill a book, but right now I want to focus on just one phrase. “There is no authority except from God.” Nowhere is there ever an exception given to this rule. And this is a fundamental principle that is repeated in one way or another all through the Bible. And that means that whoever won the last election, (Even if it was that “other guy,” the one you so love to hate, whichever one that happens to be.) you can be sure of one thing – that win was by God’s election — that person was put into office by God’s appointment. As Jeremiah says, God gives power to whomever it seems proper for Him to give it to.

Jeremiah 27:5 I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper to Me.

Now, nowhere in this is there a promise that God will give power to the one you think proper for it to be given to. Nor is there a promise that you will agree with or even like God’s choices. But what you will find, not only in these texts, but all through the Bible, are emphatic statements that whoever is in a position of authority, that person is in that position by God’s own appointment. As Romans 13:1 says, “the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”

Daniel 4:17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

In Proverbs 8:15-16 we read: “By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.”

And so, if all “authorities that exist are appointed by God,” and “there is no authority except from God,” how then should Christians conduct themselves toward that authority? Especially, How should Christians conduct themselves if the person they voted for loses and that other guy wins?

One thing is for certain, and the Bible is very clear on this — God has no sympathy for gripers and complainers. Also, there is no place in Christianity for speaking evil of those God has placed in power. Search the New Testament through and through, and you will not find a single political rant in the whole book. Rome was about as corrupt and as oppressive as governments come, and not at all Christian-friendly, but wherever you find Christians coming in contact with the powers that be, they always approach them and speak to them with the utmost respect. So far as it was in their power to do so, Christians sought to live in peace and harmony with whatever government God saw fit to place them under. And in this they were following the example of the great men of God of earlier ages.

So just where do we draw the line between honoring the government God has placed over us and obeying God?  In Daniel 3 we find a clue.

Daniel 3:1-2 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.  And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

But why should Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, since they knew they could not worship the image, be present on the occasion? It was because they were willing to comply with the king’s requirements as far as they could without compromising their religious principles. The king required them to be present. With this requirement they could comply, and they did. He also required them to worship the image. This they could not do for God had expressly forbidden such worship, and this they therefore refused to do.

The course that these three men of God followed is the same course that we find written in the New Testament, the same course that the apostles counseled Christians to follow in regard to their conduct and attitude toward the requirements of civil governments.

1 Peter 2:13-15 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men–

Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

So far as it is possible to do so without violating the commandments of God, without violating conscience, we are to comply with the requirements of whatever government God has seen fit to put over us. Even if that power, that government, is corrupt and abusive of its powers as Rome was in the apostles’ day.

But these words of Paul and Peter do not require the Christian to obey either persons or governments when their requirements come into conflict with the Word of God. The Christian, as a loyal citizen of whatever government God has seen fit to place them under, will go as far as possible in compliance with the will of that state. — Even if, figuratively speaking, that means standing on the plain of Dura before a golden image. Why? Because as Peter said, “That by well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

Consider Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon. Consider how they conducted themselves toward those in positions of authority. By worldly standards, did they have cause for complaint, to rant and rail against the powers that be? Yes. But you won’t find them wallowing in that mud pit. By the grace of God they rose above the petty and political.

The people of Judah who were carried away to Babylon felt that they had cause for complaint, cause to rant and rail against Babylon and its king. Yet Jeremiah wrote to them to make themselves at peace with their new masters.

Jeremiah 29:-74 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters-that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.

Consider Saul and David. Saul was an evil king, and David was anointed by the prophet Samuel to take his place on the throne of Israel. Yet even after God had Samuel anoint David to sit on the throne of Israel, God kept Saul on that throne for many long years. And in all those years David’s conducted toward Saul was most respectful. By worldly standards, did David have cause for complaint, to rant and rail against Saul? Yes. But you won’t find him wallowing in that mud pit. By the grace of God he rose above the petty and political. David understood that it was God who placed Saul on the throne of Israel and that it was God who would in His own time remove Saul from that throne. And when Saul was at last killed in battle, David wrote a most heartfelt Psalm as a tribute to him. (2 Samuel 1;17-27).

But now days casting disparaging remarks against those God has placed in office has become the national pastime. It has become a game to dig up every fault, every slip of the tongue, to tear people down and bring them to ruin if at all possible. And sadly even Christians have joined in the game. Indeed, sadder yet, Christians have almost made it their religion to speak evil of the nation’s leaders. But Paul writes “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.” (Acts 23:5) and Peter writes of those who are all too willing “to speak evil of dignitaries,” saying that they are little better than “brute beasts,” and will as a consequence receive their just condemnation.

2 Peter 2:10. 12-13 They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, … But these, like natural brute beasts … speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, …

And Jude echoed the words of Peter when he wrote: ”Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. …  But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.” (Jude 1:8,10).

For better or worse, for good or evil, our words count. They have an effect on those around us. And the mudslinging political rhetoric so commonplace today is not the kind of words Christians have been bidden to speak. It should not be regarded as a light thing to speak evil of others or to make ourselves judges of their motives or actions. “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.” (James 4:11) For there is only one Judge — and you are not Him.

In Ecclesiastes we read that we are not to curse the king, not so much as even in our thoughts.

Ecclesiastes 10:20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

And yet, what is the reality? Consider Jeremiah 20:10, a text that all too truly describes the attitude of all too many Christians; “For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it.”

Now you would expect this kind of conduct from the world. But with such plain statements from Scripture, how is it that Christians often lead the way in bringing railing accusations against those put in positions of leadership? Is it that we have forgotten that this is not our home, that “our citizenship is in heaven”? (Philippians 3:20) Have we forgotten that we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth”? (Hebrews 11:13) Have we forgotten that we have a higher and holier calling than mere earthly politics?

How about if Christians all decided to do something really radical? Something like what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 for example. “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.”

Wow!!! We can only imagine. Verse 3 says that “this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” And isn’t that how as Christians we should wish to live and conduct ourselves; in a manner that is “good and acceptable” to “God our Savior”? On the other hand, coming back to Romans 13:2, we find this warning; “whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Ask yourself this question, and give an honest answer. Which side of this equation do you stand on?

Scripture tells us to “speak evil of no one” and to be “subject to rulers and authorities.” (Titus 3:1,2). Many Christians fail on both parts.

Titus 3:1-2 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.

Now notice that Titus 3:1-2 quoted above, is a single sentence. Therefore it follows that the ones that we are not to speak evil of are the rulers and authorities to which we are to submit ourselves. Peter expands on this, writing:

1 Peter 2:13-16 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men– as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.

So far as it is possible to do so without violating the commandments of God, without violating conscience, we are to comply with the requirements of whatever government God has seen fit to put over us. Even if that power, that government, is corrupt and abusive of its powers as Rome was in the apostles day.

But these words of Paul and Peter do not require the Christian to obey either persons or governments when their requirements come into conflict with the Word of God. The Christian, as a loyal citizen of whatever government God has seen fit to place them under, will go as far as possible in compliance with the will of that state. Why? Because as Peter said; “That by well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

But there is a boundary beyond which the Christian will not pass. Though ever loyal, though ever polite, courteous, and respectful to authority; and in spite of any threat or enticement to encourage compliance, the true Christian will steadfastly refuse to take a single step beyond the boundaries set by God in His Word. But even this does not give the Christian license to be in any way disrespectful or discourteous in their conduct toward those in authority.

——————

I hope brothers and sisters that this has shed light on the attitude you have towards the President and other appointed officials. I honestly believe with my whole heart that the more that we set our eyes on Jesus, the less we will be worried about the issues of the world we are only temporary residents of.

God Bless!

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