Monday, September 29, 2008

How To Treat A Secular Government

What to recognize about governments
The government is appointed by God
Every government only gains its authority from God—even evil governments. Although governments may misuse or even abuse their authority, the authority itself comes from God. Thus, we need to respect the authority of the government, no matter who is using it. (John 20:11)

The government represents God
The government is meant to do some of God’s work on earth—specifically, to punish those who do evil and to reward those who do good. This does not mean that the government is God’s servant, necessarily. Satan also punishes the evil at God’s bidding, but he is not an obedient servant of God. But ideally, the government does God’s will. (Romans 13:1)

The government will be judged by God
Men do not have the right to judge governments. Even as a government’s authority and work has been given to it by God, so it is God who evaluates and determines the fate of governments. Often, God is patient and willing to wait for change. But some governments will be destroyed by God immediately: specifically those treat the needy badly and those who do much unnecessary violence. (Psalm 82)

There is only one truly godly government
The only government that has been appointed, approved and having passed testing by God is the kingdom of God, led by Jesus. No other government can call themselves approved by God. Nor can any other government call itself truly “Christian.” (John 18:36)

What not to do
Resist them when they do injustice against you
We do not resist authorities, but we are supposed to submit to them. We don’t need to complain against them, hate them or speak evil against them. Instead, if a government does us wrong, we pray about it and ask God for justice. (Matthew 5:39)

Judge them for not following the laws or principles of God’s kingdom.
Although the governments represent God, they do not understand the principles of God, except in the most general notions. And so it is not our job to judge them or condemn them for what they do not know. We can inform them of what God says, but it is God’s right to judge them and to punish them if they were inadequate. (I Corinthians 5:9-10)

Rebel against the authorities
We don’t need to do evil to the government. If the government is to be fought against, then we can pray for God to judge them, according to his will.
(Romans 13:2)

Obey them when they tell you to disobey the principles of Jesus.
We must take care to always place God and God’s will in our lives above the government’s will and desire. We submit to governments in all things except when they tell us to disregard the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. (Acts 4:19)

What to do
Give honor to whom honor is due
Government officials require that we speak politely to them, with the proper titles. Whatever honor is expected, we should give it. (Romans 13:7)

Pay taxes when you are required to
All governments require us to pay taxes to them. Even if you feel that the government isn’t representing you or doing what you think is right, you still have to pay the taxes that they demand of you. (Romans 13:7)

Pray for the leadership
We need to pray for government officials so that we will show respect for the officials, and also so God will direct the authorities to have wisdom to create a society of peace, so the church can do what God is directing them to do. (I Timothy 2:1-2)

Submit to authorities, even when you come to harm
We are to submit to authorities, even if they do evil, even if they irritate us, even if they harm us. This is how we show that we are fully submitted to God and will do good, even if others do us evil. (I Peter 2:13-24)

Obey all laws, unless they tell you to disobey God
Since the governments have the authority of God and act for God, we need to obey them. Even if you think the law is wrong or unjust, obey it. The only time we disobey, is if they tell us to disobey God. (Colossians 3:22)

Do good to those who do harm to you
When government officials do harm to us, we are to respond with blessings and prayers for their benefit. We do not curse them or abuse them, but instead do what we can to benefit them. (Romans 12:17-21)

Warn them away from God’s judgement by encouraging them to repent
If governmental officials do evil in God’s sight—especially if they are enacting unnecessary violence or harming the needy—they need to be warned that God will judge them unless they repent. (Ezekiel 33:9)

What you don’t have to do
Participate in the government
Many feel that it is one’s civic duty to vote in governmental elections, sign appropriate petitions or to participate in neighborhood meetings. However, since we, as Christians, belong to the kingdom of God, we should focus our attention on participating with God’s people, not a secular government. (James 4:4)

Agree with any particular politics or politician
Some Christians feel that a certain politics is the only real Christian choice, or that a certain politician is the “godly candidate.” However, we do not need to support any policy, politics or candidate. Rather, we need to focus on policies and decisions within the church and among those who represent Jesus. (Ephesians 4:17-19)

Call the nation we live in “our country”
The nation of all those who follow Jesus is not the one they were born in or the one they live in—it is the kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God has no king but God and no lord but Jesus and no realm on the earth. The non-godly government we live in the midst of is not “our” country. It is the country we live in . Our nation is only the kingdom of God. (II Corinthians 6:14-18)

Protest injustices
The ungodly governments of this world will do unjust and evil things sometimes. We do not need to protest them, although we might warn them what God will do in response. Some might choose to protest, and receive what persecution comes with gladness. But it is not necessary. However, when some in the church who represent God does open evil, then we need to respond. (I Corinthians 5:9-11)

Honor government leaders, but focus on God’s will among God’s people.

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