Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Ramblings On Politics
A passage that has always been very interesting to me is 1 Timothy 2:1-3. Paul said, "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior..." We don't reflect much on what this tells us about our relationship as followers of God to our government. How is it that God could want those early Christians to pray for an evil, totalitarian, repressive, blood-thirsty, ungodly, and idolatrous government? Why not call on His people to rebel and revolt and overthrow Rome so a good and virtuous form of government, like the one we have, could be installed? Maybe it's as simple as what I keep hearing Jesus say, "My kingdom is not of this world."
Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. The blessing of living in a free country is wonderful - but unique. Very few people, past and present, have been part of a true democracy. We are blessed to be able to vote and choose our leaders, who will in turn, pass the kind of legislation that we want. Our constitution says that we have that right. But that's a privilege those early Christians couldn't even fathom. I believe that I have a responsibility to obey my government, fight and defend it, and do what I can to keep our rights and privileges as a citizen of this great country. I can and should try to change it in whatever ways I have the right to change it - to make it better. But my kingdom is not of this world. Those early brethren prayed for a government that persecuted Christians, enslaved millions, and was wicked to the core. Should I pray for a government that won't protect the unborn, that promotes immorality, ignores spiritual values, and uses my taxes for things I don't support or believe in? Yes. What if I were born in communist China? What if my country's leader was a wicked despot? What if my country was killing Christians, like is happening in Africa? Yes - I would pray for it.
We have to look to God for our values, not our government. We must do our duty as submissive citizens, but we must first, last, and always be citizens of heaven. We must be thankful for our rights, but not confuse them with righteousness. That's exactly the battle our country is fighting right now. Our constitution, our legislature, and our courts are charged with protecting our rights, but our rights may not always have anything to do with righteousness. Where in the Bible would you go to prove that we have "inalienable rights... to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"? I love it, but these, according the the New Testament, only have real meaning and fulfillment in Jesus.
So what am I saying? 1) Be thankful to be in such a wonderful country; 2) Be a good, responsible, and submissive citizen; but, 3) Don't be surprised when your government allows things that your belief system abhors. Remember, rights and righteousness are not the same thing, and will, inevitably be in conflict with one another.