Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Letting James Off The Hook
James wrote on an earlier post: “Scripture doesn't really have much to say about a preferred mode of governing, does it, other than to say that we are to obey our governing authorities who are put there by God (does this include Kim Jong?).”
I told him to keep digging in Scripture for the many examples where God does talk about governing. Dig dig dig.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”
First and always foremost, seek His Kingdom. Our governance as Christians comes from God, who is above every government/kingdom on Earth. Seeking His Kingdom, His righteousness first reminds us of where our loyalty lies.
And this is one of the beauties of the Gospel. A slave is as free as his master, if they are both Christians. A Chinese Christian who is being beaten and tortured for his or her faith can appeal to God, Whose higher authority will ultimately recompense the ones doing the torturing. But that Chinese Christian will be a model citizen in all ways-he will work, pay taxes, respect the rule of the government, except where the Government comes up against what a Christian is called to do, such as spreading the Gospel and living for God
Once upon a time the Jews were chafing under the rule of God. They were not pleased with the governance God provided through the Judges, and were demanding a human King to lead them. I’ve written about it here before, but basically, through Samuel, God told the Israelites ahead of time what would happen if they chose a human king: “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. 12“He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13“He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14“He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. 15“He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. 16“He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. 17“He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. 18“Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
They were no longer “Seeking first the Kingdom of God”. And Saul and some of the other kings to follow him fully embodied that prophecy of what a human king would do.
So what do we do if we live under a Saul or a Kim Jong Il? What does a Chinese Christian do who is living under a Communist government which enslaves it’s own people?
Obey God. Seek His Kingdom first. If your human government is involved in a war, and you are sent to soldier, fight. You may be killing another Christian on the other side who is also fighting, but each must obey the government they live under. Change and improve it through the political process if you can, but that is secondary. Our first allegiance is to the Kingdom of God.
The war on Terror which we are involved in is a great example of what I’m talking about. Iraq was held by a dictator. A Christian living under Hussein’s rule would seek first the Kingdom of God, and follow His rule. But in all matters which did not conflict with God’s Rule, he would be expected to remain a loyal subject of Hussein. He would also be overjoyed to see that dictator removed from power by God, working through the ‘Coalition of the Willing’. Every good gift comes from above. Every government existing today has some form of that human king God spoke about through Samuel. Thrones established in sin are simply man seeking to govern himself rather than seeking the governance of God. But even in that truth, God is Glorified, as the most restrictive inhumane regimes are witness to great revival, to the spreading of the Gospel. They create the turmoil which turns peoples hearts towards God. Where sin did abound, Grace did all the more abound.
Think about your life-if you faced no problems, if everything were fine and happy, what need would you have for God? God uses the circumstance of our daily troubles to prepare hearts for the planting of the Gospel. And once that Gospel is received, and a person accepts the gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ, they can now endure all things, including repressive human governments who reject God.
James, even this post barely scratches the surface of what God has to say about governance. Keep digging.