Thursday, October 18, 2012

Government in the Bible

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”1

            As we near the elections this fall, you may hear tons of political arguments, mudslinging or endorsements of the candidates running this year. Many of us have frankly become sick of politics and don't want to respect our government officials (present or future) or take pride in our government system. However, this is not the right attitude. Romans 13:1-7 teaches us about God’s purpose in government and design for a righteous and God-fearing nation. Government authorities are established by God and are his servants, so they have an obligation to serve God, but we also have an obligation to honor them, because in doing so we honor God.
            As citizens and Christians, nothing should stop us from honoring God, even if it is honoring our leaders. That is our responsibility in life: to glorify God. As God establishes all authorities and calls them his servants, he expects us to honor them. As we heard earlier in Romans, honoring our authorities is honoring God. Jesus goes further to say “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”2.
            The government also has duties to serve God: it should not restrict freedom of religion, but it should not forsake its foundations in Biblical Christianity. George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”3 One might argue that you can still have a nation that is happy with its laws, but that doesn't mean that the laws are righteous, since righteousness comes from God.
            Romans 13:4 illustrates how the government can serve God by serving the people of their nation. The government’s duty is to follow God’s design for balance between anarchy and despotism, which is somewhat like Ronald Reagan’s ideal government: “Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”4 The Bible also talks numerous times about God’s love for the poor, saying that “those who oppress the poor show contempt for [God]”5.
            In the Biblical design for government, a nation will prosper. Psalms 19:7-11 says that God’s laws and statutes are perfect and trustworthy. If we follow such laws, how trustworthy and close to perfection could our country be! Serving God and serving our country come hand in hand. Look around yourself. What does your country need that God can't provide or instill? God is peace. He is love. He is faithful. Follow His example of good. Honor Him by honoring His earthly deputies­­ – our leaders and authorities.

     Justin Gummi

“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.”6

1Romans 13:1-7, NIV 1984 
2Matthew 22:21, Ibid.
5Proverbs 14:31, NIV 1984
6James Bryce,

Image by Justin Gummi

1 comment:

  1. Great article!!!! In Social Studies, we're doing a project on the election. This is exactly how Christians should look at the upcoming election! I agree with you 100%!!!