Civil Government: God's Gift to the Church

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1).

Most Christians would agree that they need to obey God. If we claim Him as Lord, we need to follow Him (Luke 6:46). Most would agree they need to submit to church authority because the Bible commands that we do so (Hebrews 13:17). But some suppose the government consists only of evil people and that we as Christians must oppose the government. The verse above provides a much better approach to our attitude toward government.

God established government to safeguard people in general, including Christians. He expects the governing authorities to rule in justice and mercy, and to not oppress people. Furthermore, God expects people, including Christians, to obey the laws of the land and not oppose them.

Because of sin and human weakness, we cannot expect the government to administer justice perfectly. In fact, we often read of officials who compromise their office with corrupt practices. These people need to be removed, but we should also acknowledge the good and honest people God has raised up to do good for us.

In order for the church to conduct its ministry, we should pray for peace in the land and as little unrest as possible:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2).

The thought is that we should pray for peaceful conditions so that we can reach others for Christ. When too much energy is drained from the church fighting various civil battles, we risk hurting our greatest call of all.

Sometimes Christians experience personal injustice from a ruling authority. When this occurs, and you have prayed, and you cannot let the matter rest, seek redress through the proper channels. Throughout the process, remember to keep your witness for Christ intact. Whatever the outcome, remember that God will vindicate the innocent one day, and make all matters right.

We need to see the good role government plays in our lives in seeking to maintain order and provide services. When we see someone doing their job well, we might want to thank them for it. They have been installed by God according to our opening verse, and we should be grateful.

Finally, pray for peace and stability in our land. Through Christ our witness cannot only lead people to Christ, but also spread joy in an otherwise depressing atmosphere.

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