God and Politics

“Every person should obey the government in power. No government would exist if it hadn’t been established by God. The governments which exist have been put in place by God.”
Romans 13:1-2 (God’s Word Translation)

We are living in the midst of some pretty wacky political times in the United States.  In fact, I’ve heard more than a handful of people exclaim, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime!”  Perhaps you’re feeling the same way—and maybe you are as unsettled as other citizens around you, wondering what on earth the future has in store.  After all, how can we trust politicians who appear corrupt, make inconsistent statements, or even act in crazy ways?

The great news for everyone—no matter what side of the political aisle we’re on—is that God has complete control of everything that’s transpiring in current and future governing.  How do I know?  Look at the verses from Romans written above for starters.  As believers, we’re encouraged to submit ourselves to the government in power because God has placed it there. Actually, Paul clearly points out that NO government has ever existed without the Lord’s hand being involved in the political process.

“Now wait a minute!” I can hear some of you saying, “How can that be possible?  God wouldn’t put a corrupt government in place, would He?”

Well, let’s consider one historical example as we ponder this point:

The ruling power in New Testament times was the Roman Empire, and the emperors wielded absolute authority.  Many of those rulers were harsh task-masters, intolerant, and sometimes diabolical and cruel.  Yet look at what the Apostle Peter had to say to Christians living in those tumultuous times:

“Place yourselves under the authority of human governments to please the Lord. Obey the emperor. He holds the highest position of authority. Also obey governors. They are people the emperor has sent to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.  God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing what is right.”  (I Peter 2:13-15)
Despite the often negative governing experiences early Christians had to endure, they were encouraged to live uprightly under those in authority in order “to please the Lord.”  Notice also that their good example of faithful living, even in a far-from-perfect political system, would silence the criticism about their Christianity because they were “doing what is right.”What modern-day believers have going for us, especially if we’re living in free democratic societies, is that we can actively be involved in the selection process of our leaders.  And, like the believers who have gone before us, we can pray for those in power as well as those God will place in positions of leadership.  As Paul reminds us, “People in the government are God’s servants while they do the work he has given them” (Romans 13:6).

What peace this should offer all of us today!  We may not see the Lord’s reasons behind current leadership, but He does.  We might not like what those leaders are doing, but we can still remain honorable citizens as we pray for them to fulfill God’s purpose—whatever that may be.  And, most especially, we should be mindful about His greater mission:  that no one should perish, but everyone would come to salvation (II Peter 3:9).

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Thought of the Month

 “Live as those who are free and not as those who use their freedom as a pretext for evil, but live as God’s servants. Respect everyone. Love the community of believers. Reverence God. Honor your ruler.”

I Peter 2:16-17 (The Voice)