Summary: Governmental structures and laws cannot render ultimate righteousness, but they can help reflect and uphold it.
From the Word… Series: You Asked For It
How Should We Relate to Politics?
Brad Bailey – May 18, 2008
Continuing is our series entitled “You Asked For It… in which we are focusing on topics which were drawn from a survey of the entire community.
Today… How should we relate to the roles of government and politics?
The issue of Christian involvement in politics has been one of the most debated and divisive issues not only of our times… but throughout much of history.
I suppose it’s natural to think we are going to find ourselves filled with controversy…
After all… if one wants to maintain relationships…. We are told never talk about… religion and politics… so I suppose we could be in trouble.
So why am I comfortable addressing this topic? Is it because I believe that if we talk about both religion and politics that somehow the two negatives will cancel eachother out and become a positive? Interesting theory but that’s not why. I’m confident because I believe our diversity of perspectives and convictions is actually a great gift… and what will serve that gift is to see the common ground that we can share.
I believe we are all open to what God’s Words has to say… and I believe there is plenty of common challenge to our common role as citizens. … regardless of political affiliation.
I want to help us capture two things… first, the proper appreciation for government, politics, and our role as citizens, and secondly, ways in which I believe God would have us live out his calling as citizens.
The reason I want to begin with establishing that God even has a role for government… is because I think many of us have become disillusioned or detached. People who believe is a greater source of power can naturally begin to just become critics of human governance. And lets be honest… if we look at simply the way we grow up… it can be loaded with some negative connotations towards government. We slips through from our parents… media… may not have always sounded great. Then our first facing of the governing authorities comes with getting a driver’s license. The authorities hold a power that we must fight for. So comes the one that often sets the tone most… paying taxes. In these and so many other ways, we can begin to see governing authorizes as our nemesis.. our enemy to a free life.
So what is God’s perspective about…
I. The Role of Government and Citizenship
1. God has established the role of governing authorities to deter the effects of evil.
Romans 13:1-4 (MsgB)
“Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. 2If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. 3Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.
Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, 4the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it.”
These words may seem difficult in light of how wrongly some governments rule… but perhaps not so different from recognizing that God ordained the role of marriage and parenting… which also can fall deeply and destructively short of their intentions.
Paul indicated that even “secular” governments, such as the autocratic Roman Empire, are God-ordained (see Rom. 13:1–7).
> The institution of governing authorities bears a legitimate role and purpose… even while the actual exercising can fail to live up to it. Our role is to honor what is right and God-given, while honoring God above all and who alone fully bears justice and righteousness.
In a day when disrespect for government is in vogue, Christians have a challenge to adopt a different attitude. We do well to remember:
David respected even a morally degraded, insanely driven Saul. How much more ought believers today to honor duly elected public officials.
Cyrus, the pagan king of Persia, who God His shepherd and His anointed (see Is. 44:28–45:1) as a secular government who carried out God’s sovereign purposes.
Paul - As a Roman commander arrested Paul and ordered that he be beaten, Paul used his Roman citizenship to protect his rights (Acts 22:25–29). He had done the same thing at Philippi after being illegally jailed (Acts 16:36–40, cf. Acts 24:18-19). In Jerusalem, he insisted on due process rather than endure unjust mob retaliation.