Saturday, July 4, 2020

Hope for Our Nation

Photo by Mike LoCascio 2011
As the United States celebrates Independence Day, we seem to be in an unprecedented time of turmoil, uncertainty, division, and civil unrest. Every issue and threat to our nation seems to be highly politicized, to the point that political ideology seems to overwhelm common sense. 
More than ever, our nation needs God's mercy, grace, love and protection.Only in Him, Who works all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28), can we have hope for our nation. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12).
It is fitting for Christians to consider what the Bible says about those in authority over us. No matter how our personal feelings or our political leanings affect our thoughts about those in office, Scripture tells us to pray for those who rule over us (1 Timothy 2:2). 
This is appropriate, for there is no power that be whom God has not appointed to accomplish His specific purposes (Romans 13:1). We may not understand His choices, for His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Yet we are not to resist the powers over us, for they are of God, and rebellion would be against God Himself, leading to not only earthly consequences but to His judgment on us (Romans 13:2-7). 
When David fled for his life from King Saul, who in a jealous rage wanted him dead for being more popular with the people as a warrior leader than Saul was, David finally had the opportunity to take the life of Saul as he slept. But he could not even lay a hand on him, for he realized that Saul at that time was the Lord’s anointed, and that his own hour to rule awaited God’s perfect timing (1 Samuel 24:4-13). 
The apostle Paul established an authority structure revealed to him by Christ Himself. All of us, whether male or female, Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free men, are equal in God’s sight and one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). God extends to whosoever shall call upon the Name of Jesus Christ the freely given gift of salvation (Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13). Regardless of our past, social status, nationality, or family history, all can be saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). 
Yet we are all subject to the curse of sin (Romans 3:23), so God has ordained a power structure on earth to prevent chaos in our society and relationships. If we are to love others as God loves us (John 13:34-35), we must put their needs above our own, even if we are in a position of relative authority (Mark 9:35). 
In marriage, wives are to submit to their husbands, and yet husbands are to love their wives self-sacrificingly, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:21-33). Children are to submit to their parents, and yet parents should not provoke them to anger (Ephesians 6:1-4) and should give them good gifts (Matthew 7:11). 
Employees are to submit to their employers, working as if working for God directly and not for an imperfect human, who like all humans can make mistakes. Yet the employer is to consider the needs of those under his authority, for God has placed him in a position of responsibility to be a good steward (Ephesians 6:5-9). 
Even within the church there is an authority structure. Christ Himself is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18), or the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4), and under Him is the pastor or bishop (Titus 1:7-9), who is the undershepherd. The elders or deacons report to the pastor, as do the teachers, worship and music directors, and other church leaders, and the congregation submits to all of their leadership. Yet the pastor, elders and leaders must also consider the needs of the flock over their own preferences (1 Timothy 3:1-13). 
To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48), particularly in government where those elected or appointed to power should serve the good of their people ahead of their own ambition. The kings of Israel are an excellent example of how good rulers do this, whereas bad rulers fail to do so. The greatest rulers do not lord their power over their subjects, but serve and minister to them, following Christ’s example (Matthew 20:25-28). As He walked the earth, Jesus Himself submitted to the authority of God the Father (Matthew 21:23-27). 
Sometimes God may allow bad rulers into power as a form of judgment, allowing nations to get the tyrants they deserve. When the righteous rule, their subjects rejoice, but when the wicked rule, their subjects mourn (Proverbs 29:2). 
Yet regardless of the relative attributes or shortcomings of our earthly rulers, Christians should follow the law of the land, including paying taxes (Romans 13:7). Jesus Christ Himself instructed Peter to pay taxes on behalf of Himself and the apostles (Matthew 17:24-27; 22:17-22). He Himself said that He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).
Thankfully, the laws of the United States, and those of many other nations, are based on Biblical law, or the Ten Commandments and other laws given by God to Moses to govern God’s people (Exodus 20:1-17). Christians should therefore submit to their earthly rulers and the laws they establish, while realizing that we ultimately serve the highest authority, and it is to Him that we pledge our highest allegiance (Matthew 6:33; Colossians 1:18). 
For the most part, if we do good as God defines it, we will be keeping the law of the land, which is established to prevent and punish evil (Romans 13:3-5).  If and when we cannot keep the laws of the land and of God at the same time, God’s law must be our guiding principle (Acts 5:29). 
To avoid this conflict, Christians should be diligent not only to pray for salvation, wisdom and guidance for those in authority, but also to humble ourselves and pray for our nation. If we who are God’s people humble ourselves and confess our sins, individually and as a nation, He will hear us and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). 
As we celebrate Independence Day, may we remember to pray for those in authority over us, for healing and forgiveness in our land, and for Holy Spirit guidance to first honor and obey our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! 
© 2018 Laurie Collett
Edited and reposted from the archives 


Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
I fully agree with you, all authority has been established by God, according to Romans 13.
However, that's far easier to accept in free democratic countries such as Britain, Western Europe and North America than it was under the Communist regimes which the likes of Stalin, Lenin and Mao who has millions slain for merely holding a different opinion to their own. And all churches and the practice of religion was suppressed under threat of imprisonment or even death.
Then not to forget the Holocaust, where Jews in great numbers were needlessly slain along with a great many undesirables who didn't fit the idealism of an advanced white society.
Yet there's no authority which hadn't been established by God. And so that's true because that is what God tells us.
But I hope that still leave us with the freedom to ask questions about our sordid history.
A great post. Wishing both you and your husband good health. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
It is truly difficult to understand why God would allow such horrific regimes, but we can have faith that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Often in Scripture nations get the leaders they deserve, as a form of judgment. The calamities that surround us today are frightening, yet reassuring in a way, for they signal that we are in the End Times and that His return is near. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
May you and Alex stay safe and well. God bless

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
yes, I believe that we are in the end times too, as the world is in total chaos. The only peace in this world is the peace that we can have in Jesus, which is spoken of in many verses. Each person in order to have that peace must trust in the Lord with all their heart and must not lean on their own understanding, as it says in Proverbs ch. 3 vs. 5-6. Jesus is the Word of God and it is only through that written Word given to us daily that we can learn God's ways and know His thoughts. There is a time for everything, even including being born again of God's Holy Spirit, and God wants all to be saved. There is a great lack of true 'love'and forgiveness unfortunately in this world in these times, and it is only the living Word that can change that.
God bless you and your husband Laurie, and thankyou for sharing the scriptures. It is always good to encourage one another in the body of Christ.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
May we have the peace that passes all understanding. I love Prov. 3:5-6 and have them engraved on 2 stones that are on a shelf over my desk. Yes, lack of love truly does seem to characterize these End Times, but praise God that through Him, we can know love and share it with others. Thank you for being such an encourager. God bless you and your family,