Faith, Responsibility, and Government

“Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.” Romans 13:1

These words were penned by the New Testament writer, Paul, when Nero Claudius Caesar was ruling as Emperor in Rome. He was known for political murders, scandal, and persecution of Christians, yet Paul had a different insight about governing authorities. He didn’t see the government as the savior of the world. He saw God as the sovereign ruler overall. He saw that in the midst of hardship and suffering, God’s ultimate reign and rule would be advanced. He saw the joy of another Savior and the opportunity to advance His Kingdom of love, peace, and light amid darkness.

We are in a time in our nation where there is a great divide. Most people are seeing it. We think that the “last hope” and “Savior” of the world is the right people in office or the “right” party in power. We have come to think we are doomed if our candidate does not get in office. We label people and we argue. We call people “extreme, dangerous, and evil.” Listen to the words used on all kinds of media. We are put into “camps” and few people can talk without getting angry. All sides are being called “destroyers of democracy.”

Now we just have to step back and think. We still enjoy some of the greatest freedoms in the world. We may have so much more in common if we look for it. Do we want justice for the suffering? Do we want protection and safety in our communities? Do we want our children to be educated and learn? Do we want to be able to provide for ourselves and our families? Do we want our country to be a land of opportunity? I think the vast majority of people would say “yes” to these things. Much of it comes to how we get there. If we are not listening to each other and are not treating each other with respect, kindness, and civility, we cannot truly understand what others are saying. Jesus said, “Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31) This alone would help us be in the right frame of mind when we talk to others from different viewpoints.

So back to the main point. If we think that government is the last hope and savior of the world, we have put way too much importance and faith in an institution that will never solve all our problems…nor was it meant to. We elect fallible human beings, and we decide on the basis of what matches our values the most, but don’t be mistaken. They will let us down. So what do we do? We pray for our leaders. We can talk about the issues and even be persuasive. But we must do it with dignity and respect, treating each other as those who have been made in the image of God.

Lastly, knowing that the government is not the savior of the world, let us look to the One who is and who has promised to be with us in good times and bad. He has also promised a Kingdom that is righteous, true, and just—a Kingdom not of this world. This means placing our faith in the One who gives us peace, eternal life, and hope. He is able to change and transform our hearts from within. The Bible speaks beautifully of Jesus in the prophecy of His birth:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7a)

For now, let us encourage one another to listen to each other, to give honor and dignity to one another, to be patient and wise with our words. The world will go on after our next election. The question is, “Will we still have caring relationships with those in our community and with those near us that will last beyond the election cycle? Will we put our trust in God, our true Savior, above any earthly government?”
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Mark Anderson