One of the more perplexing areas for the Christian is our responsibilities as a citizen. Especially in an election year, it is a good time to review our obligations to the Throne of our King.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves condemnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
This is certainly a sound foundation from which to start. We are clearly admonished to lead a "quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."1 Yet there are exceptions, of course, when the local ordinances are in conflict with God's laws.2 (It may come as a surprise to discover that God's moral laws preceded all other aspects of His creation.3 )
It is also instructive to notice how Paul knew the prevailing laws and his rights and didn't hesitate to exploit them.4 The Bible does not seem to deal directly with the responsibilities of a democracy in which officials are elected and in which laws are drafted by elected officials which have authority over those officials. Thus, we must make applications to our democratic context carefully.
Our Unique Heritage
In America we have a representative government; we are committed to the rule of law, not to a person or specific ruler. Submission in our Republic is primarily to laws and constitutional processes and not to persons. Our officials are actually our employees.
Biblical submission is a readiness to obey law and uphold the legal order, not an approval or endorsement of all lawmakers or even all laws absolutely. Christ's absolute supremacy over our lives qualifies the ostensible absoluteness of human law. The Christian recognizes Christ and his law as the final authority.
Our Paradoxical Stewardship
Our problem is, what is to be done when the "rulers are a terror to good works"? John the Baptist's preaching is an example of a proper indictment of present government authority. Jesus said of John the Baptist, "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!"5 Nevertheless, he was beheaded for indicting publicly the prevailing ruling authority.
For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had been saying to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."
Therefore, opposition to a leader's behaviorand public criticism of itand the declaration of moral unfitness for office is not necessarily inconsistent with a submissive spirit to governing authorities.
We enjoy a unique mandate: we enjoy a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people." And I believe you and I will be held accountable for our stewardship of this mandate that has come to us at such a high price. Ask almost anyone, "What is the biggest problem in America? Is it ignorance or is it apathy?" They are likely to answer, "I don't know and I don't care!" Our first stewardship priority is:
Knowing the Truth About Our Leadership
It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, for a throne is established on righteousness.
The abandonment of righteousness weakens the seat of government and the stability and security of the nation. Loyalty and truth preserve the king, and he upholds his throne by righteousness.
The abandonment of truth and loyalty to covenants undermines the leadership of a ruler. The king gives stability to the land by justice, but a man who takes bribes overthrows it.
The issue of bribery is, at root, the issue of private truthfulness and acting on principle as opposed to being driven by expediency. Thus, when integrity is forsaken, justice is overthrown.
If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, all his ministers become wicked.
The minimizing of truthfulness corrupts others so that the entire government becomes more corrupt. Thus, private morality has vast public implications. "Private" acts of rulers pervert public justice and good order. Paul warns that immorality and wickedness is not to be tolerated.
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Galatians 5:9 1 Corinthians 5:6[Leaven is an idiom for sin: it corrupts by puffing up.]
Ye shall put away leaven out of your houses... Neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters... Exodus 12:15; 13:7
It is time to get our house in order.
Our Forthcoming Election
This coming election will not be about political persuasions: it is about character; it is about morality; it is about keeping oaths before the Throne of God. It is about the mandate and commitment to preserve and defend God-given rights embodied in the Constitution.
The Congress and Senate take oaths. Are they relevant? Are they accountable? They are: before the Throne of God. That's a mandate they can't ignore or postpone. Is it party or principle?
We will face some fundamental questions: Are we going to embrace those who would murder children during delivery? Are we going to continue to subsidize sexual perversion and the promotion of incurable diseases, and destroy the very concept of the family which God has ordained?
Some will press for compromise in the name of political pragmatism and expediency. Yet, let us remember: The victory is the Lord's, should He choose to bless. Our only duty is to stand for what is right, and remain consistent with His laws.
The Ultimate Poll
There is a poll that can't be ignored, and it has only one vote! There is an election coming which has your name on the ballot. It will involve a "ballot box" which will receive only one relevant vote: God's. The results will not be determined by rhetoric but by performance. What has your voting record been?
Whatever your beliefs and values, make sure the candidates you support are committed to the same things you are committed to.
Your Call to Action
There is something far more powerful than even the ballot box: it is your prayer closet.
- Pray for the President's repentance and renewal in faith and honesty and purity of heart and body. And pray for the Office of the Presidency, and that its moral leadership might be reinstated.
- Pray for all of our leadersfor discernment and wisdom in their decisions; for courage in times of crisis; and, for repentance where their behavior so requires.
- And pray for the exaltation of God in our land, whose ways and Word have been ignored and despised.
- Inform those in governing positions of your views and values (email addresses may be found on the web at www.senate.gov or www.house.gov).
- Actively support candidates of profound personal integrity.
- Hold all elected representatives accountable.
If you care about your children and grandchildren, be sure you take these accountabilities your representatives and your ownseriously.
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When minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas State legislature, everyone was expecting the usual politically correct generalities, but what they heard instead was a stirring prayer, passionately calling our country to repentance and righteousness. (The response was immediate. A number of the Legislature walked out during the prayer in protest. In six short weeks, the Central Christian Church had logged more than 5,000 responding calls, with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of the prayer from India, Africa and Korea.)
Heavenly Father, we come before you today and ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance.
We know Your Word says, "Woe on those who call evil good," but that's exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism.
We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative life-style.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of your will.
I ask it in the name of Your Son, the Living Savior, Jesus Christ.