The Christian and Government Part 2 - Submission and Prayer
March 29, 2016 by Jason Tyrell 0 comments
This is part two of what will end up being a 4 part series on the Christian and government. Part 1 was a reminder that our ultimate hope is in a Kingdom that is not of this world. In part 3, I will write about how Christians can live godly lives under different governing systems. In part 4, I will try to help us think through how to be educated voters.
Today's post is a call to remember what New Testament writers generally encourage us to as it relates to the governing authorities - submission and prayer. We live in a time where it easier than ever to publicly vent all of our frustrations and problems with government and with particular governing officials. If you watch political coverage on TV, chances are that you will be encouraged to feel distrust and even hatred for certain men and women who hold office. Make no mistake about it, there are corrupt officials and poor government aplenty here in America and around the world! But we do well to take to heart the words of Paul and Peter.
"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." -Romans 13:1
"...I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made 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. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." -1 Timothy 2:1-4
"Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors sent by him to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people." -1 Peter 2:13-15
Submission and prayer. We are called to these two things as it pertains to our governing authorities. Do we pray for those over us? Paul says to Timothy that we should pray for those in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. It is a good thing to pray that our leaders might lead us well. It is a good thing to pray that they would have wisdom from the Lord in governing us. We are reminded in Proverbs that "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will." But we also are to pray for them because guess what? Just as much as God has a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue, He also is in the business of saving governing officials through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ! Christians can be guilty of dehumanizing our authority figures. We think of them as characters playing a part (which might be the case at times, maybe they have sacrificed who they are for political gain. But the call to prayer is the same). These are eternal souls first and foremost, and when we judge them unworthy of the grace of God, we make the statement that we were more desirable, more worthy when the Lord saved us. God, forgive us for forgetting the depravity of our own souls and then considering others "worse" than us! We can read the gospel accounts and marvel at the cold heartlessness of the Pharisees toward the "sinners," but do we look upon our governing officials in the same way? Since we know the vastness of the mercy of God and His grace through Jesus Christ, and since we desire to live under peaceful and kind rulers, we must pray for them!
We also are called to submit to them. Submission by definition is to put yourself under someone, and that becomes especially difficult when you do not agree with the one you are under. Make no mistake about it, there is much to disagree with in our government! But the same was true for those to whom Paul and Peter were writing. Some of the folks they were writing to lived under oppressive governments who were hostile to the faith. Yet they were called to a posture of submission. Submission looks different in America today than it does under dictators and kings, because we have a representative government. We get to have a voice in the process. We can even aspire to take on roles on the government with the hope of being a godly influence. We will talk more about this in part 4. But no matter what the government, given the fact that our kingdom is not of this world, we are called to humbly submit.
At this point you might be saying, "How can I submit to a crooked government that seems to be anti-Christian?" You can submit to them in the same way that Jesus did when He said "...render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Wherever the governing authorities are not directly forcing you to do something that dishonors God, you can be in full submission. Where the governing authorities try to force you to dishonor God, submission is not required. Peter and John exemplified this in Acts 4 when they were told to stop preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their response to the council in Jerusalem was "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." Our submission is first and foremost to our great God, and then to those who govern us.
Brothers and sisters, while it is virtually uncertain that we will ever have a government on this earth that we are in complete agreement with, we most certainly can glorify God in the midst by praying for our leaders, submitting to them, and holding fast to the word of life, the gospel of Jesus Christ!
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