Keep the State at Arm's Length
Paul Dean Dr. Paul J. Dean's Weblog
- 2018 Jul 18
Doug Wilson got it right when he said President Trump is an ungodly man through whom God is giving us some good things – lest anyone should boast. Sometimes God uses a rival kingdom (to His) to bless His people. When Israel was rebuilding the temple, God used the pagan King Darius to protect them from their enemies (Ezra 6). And you have to give the Lord credit for His sense of humor – He even taxed those enemies to provide funds for Israel’s building project. Such is the kind of thing God does from time to time. His protection and provision come from an unlikely source; often times that source is an earthy government.
When God does what He does in that way, He’s showing us His sovereign rule over all things. He’s the One who raises up nations and then like chaff, blows them away (Isa. 40:24). We Christians sometimes forget these things, and this problem is especially acute for American Christians. Because the bulk of our existence has been a biblically and historically anomalous one in terms of relative individual liberty, we tend to see the state as good in essence and favorable toward us. We tend to believe that we can partner with and use government for God’s cause, and that we’re on the same team in so doing. As a result, in many ways, we tend to see the government as our savior rather than God, though we would never admit to such a thing, even to ourselves. But how often do we look for government-solutions rather than God-solutions? How often are we surprised at the new and scandalous things our government is doing or affirming?
When Captain Renault was shocked to find that gambling was going at Rick’s in Casablanca, he wasn’t. He knew very well what Rick’s was all about, was happy to pocket his winnings, but was also happy to shut the place down when it was in his best interest. He kept Rick’s at arms-length. His allegiance, at that moment, lay somewhere else. We mustn’t be shocked at what the American state is all about and what our government does these days. And, while we may gladly take our winnings when God gives them through the state, let us never forget the source of those winnings, and let us keep the state at arm’s length. Our allegiance lies somewhere else.