Political Engagement: Responsibility, Government & God
- Friday, November 10, 2006
Fourth, the government is often unwise and chooses wrongly. After receiving conflicting advice, Rehoboam took the advice of the young men and said to the people "...My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with stinging whips (12-14)!" Both history and the Scriptures teach us that the state moves toward oppression. In Romans 13, we are told to submit to the evil Roman state. One of the beasts of Revelation is evil government. When Paul told Timothy to pray for government officials he was not only concerned for their salvation but he was concerned that Christians be enabled to live quiet and peaceable lives (1 Tim. 2:2). He knew all to well that the state does not promote God's righteousness but a righteousness of its own which is more often than not opposed to Christ and His church (Romans 13). The state militates against our leading peaceable lives and thus we pray for said peace and freedom.
We should not be surprised when the state oppresses even as Rehoboam oppressed the people like his father Solomon (despite the fact that he actually loved God). By way of example, the question of whether or not a church has the right to publicly discipline one of its members over an extra-marital affair and its consideration by the Texas Supreme Court is shocking in light of our brief heritage of religious freedom in America. But, it should not be shocking in light of history and Scripture.
Fifth, the government, wise or unwise, is God ordained. Rehoboam was oppressive. But God raised him up for a purpose: "So the king did not listen to the people; for the turn of events was from the LORD, that He might fulfill His word, which the LORD had spoken by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat (15)." That's why we submit. God ordains all governments that come to pass (Romans 13). And that's why we must not be discouraged when things don't go our way.
Christians must learn that the state is not the answer to our problems or the problems that plague our culture. The state cannot save us; only God can do that. Knowing that the Lord raises up kings and removes those same kings as He pleases should be a source of great comfort for us. We are told that "the king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes (Prov. 21:1)."
So, whether it's election season or any other season, be involved in the political process of the nation. Pray, persuade with the word, vote, and influence. But above all, regardless of what happens in the political arena, trust in the Lord; He is sovereign in the affairs of men.
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