There have been much discussion about government policies and actions, and the attitude of the Christian. A quick scroll on my news feed reveals two sides (there may be more but in general I observe two): on one side, those who want to submit to the government in light of Romans 13 and similar texts. These Christians emphasize living peaceably and spreading faith over fear, or something like that. On the other side, there are those who want to stand up against the injustice that’s happening. They also support their argument using Scriptures. Since the Bible does not contradict itself, how do we reconcile these truths? And how do we act ethically and honorably before our Lord? Let us go back to what the Scriptures say.1
1. Is God in control over everything; that is, is He sovereign?
“remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’”
“Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.”
2. Is God in control over authorities?
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.”
3. If God is in control, should we do nothing?
No. God ordains the ends, as well as the means2. In Acts 27.21-25,31, it says that the Lord confirmed through an angel that Paul and the people with him will be saved from a shipwreck. However at one point, the crew wanted to escape. Paul then said unless these men will stay, they will not be saved. So even if the Lord has already set the end: that they will be saved from shipwreck, Paul still recognized that the Lord will bring that end through legitimate means.
4. So if God is in control and he ordains the means also, why did the Lord have to declare that He is sovereign?
For our comfort. That no matter what happens,
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
The Lord knows what He’s doing. We may not see the good at our end, that is, at this side of life, but the Lord promises that everything happens for good of those who love Him.
5. What is our main concern as Christians?
The advancement of the kingdom of God.
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,”
“No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
2 Timothy 2.4
That is our primary goal, and the main reason why we are still here.
6. If our concern is eternity, what do we do with temporal things?
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10.31
“”You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
We do everything in light of God’s glory. A good question to ask before doing a major decision is: will God be glorified here?
7. Okay, with all these in the background, am I saying that we should neglect what’s happening right now, because it doesn’t matter anyway since heaven or hell is the end?
No. See, God is a God of justice. And He wants us to be an instrument for His truth and justice also. There are many verses that pertain to this especially in the Old Testament.
“God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
‘How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.’“
“”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”
8. So what should we do?
Now this is my opinion. We do everything in our control, but we trust God even more. And that includes praying, first and foremost! Remember, God ordains the means. And He ordained that prayer is a means for Him to accomplish something. We also help as much as we can for the affected. How about the accountability of the government? I think in some way, we have to address that, to be faithful in keeping justice, truth and righteousness. But not to the point of neglecting the gospel.
9. But isn’t it written in Philippians 2.14 that we shouldn’t grumble?
Yes, that’s right. With regards to our motive, there’s no point of contention. We are broken for our people. We should be! We want to help our nation. But, we should be careful to have the proper means also. Would trashtalking the government really help? Well actually yes, as we can see that the government right now is reacting positively to the bashing. But I think this is just a short-term solution. We do not just want the government to do its job, but we want also our countrymen to realize how to choose their leaders wisely. But by calling them ‘bobo’ or by unfriending them or again trashtalking the government, we build a wall towards them. We dismiss them instead of educating them.
We also should not just look at this pragmatically, but the means should justify itself3 as well. Does the way we hold our government accountable pleasing to God? Is it God-glorifying? Would the nonbelievers, especially those who hold opposing political views, acknowledge that these are words that come out from someone who is being conformed to the image of Christ?