Citizenship

Pastor Tim Crater of Woodbridge Bible Church wrote the following article  God and Government in February, 2000.  In his article, Pastor Crater explains that “Government is of God.”  Pastor Crater encourages us to take our duties as the citizens of a republic more seriously.

God and Government
Tim Crater, Feb. 2000

During my years in Washington I’ve encountered a peculiar notion among evangelicals about government and the work of government, called “politics”: Government is a nuisance, and politics is dirty, beneath the concern of the children of God. To be involved with it is to devote precious time and energy to re-arranging chairs on the Titanic. Now, aside from any particular political agenda or issue, the Bible is clear–Government is of God. It is as much a God-ordained institution as marriage and the family, both of which, at times, can lapse into unpleasant and dreadful conditions and yet we don’t forsake and dismiss them with the cavalier attitude we do with government. We try to restore them.

Romans 13:1-7 makes clear that there is no government authority anywhere which God Himself has not ordained (v. 1). Paul even says that if you resist government authority (under normal circumstances) you are resisting God Himself (v. 2). In addition, governments are “ministers” of God (stated twice in v. 4). I am therefore dumbfounded that any conscientious believer who knows the Scripture could disdain, dismiss or disregard government. Government is not everything, it’s true; but it’s not NOTHING either. It has its proper role in human life during this age.

Now, having said this, let’s think about what kind of government God has allowed to be established here. While we often talk like we live in a monarchy, we clearly do not. We live in a republic, which means the people are their own rulers, kings, sovereigns, and authority; they hire and fire their elected officials and govern themselves through representative bodies and offices subject to their own will. God has ordained every government which exists, and He has ordained here that we, the people, govern ourselves. The problem is that too many of us are absentee rulers, who dismiss, disdain and ignore this responsibility to participate in self-government ordained by God. Those to whom God gives the authority of government have the responsibility to use it, compatibly with His revealed will, of course. It would have been just as much an insult to God, and an egregious dereliction of His sovereign anointing, for King David of Israel to have dismissed and disdained God’s selection of him as King of Israel as it is for us to dismiss and disdain God’s election of us to share in the popular self government of the United States. It is no more acceptable for us to withdraw from participation in popular self-government and look for the Second Coming, than it would have been for David to refuse to perform his royal duties in Israel and look for Messiah’s long promised advent. David used his office to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote the godly welfare of his nation; we ourselves can do no less today as those charged to govern themselves.

Though this doesn’t demand a great deal of time (voting every 2 years!!??), there are some who object that even this effort is tantamount to “re-arranging chairs on the Titanic,” that it’s futile since the nation will ultimately fall. Let’s evangelize, preach and act godly instead , they say, as though acting in the two realms is incompatible. By that same logic, you should give up taking care of your body, because you’re going to die anyway. As the bumper sticker has it, “Eat Right, Stay Fit, Die Anyway.” Our bodies are “Titanics” too; they are going down sooner or later, and yet we still feed them, doctor them, clothe them, and “rearrange chairs” quite vigorously on them at times. So it is with the body politic. Yes, America will fall, as it’s only a temporal state and not the Kingdom of God. But, we are obligated to contend with evil in it while it’s our watch, and fulfill our divinely imposed duty of self-government while it lasts. Our citizenship, like our other earthly treasures and assets given by God, is a talent which must not be buried in the ground. Like Paul, who vigorously used his Roman citizenship (which was far less potent than our US citizenship), to protect the interests of the Kingdom of God, so we too must use the powers, privileges, and immunities of our hard-won American citizenship in the service of our eternal state, the Kingdom of God. Government is ordained of God, it is His idea, and His institution. It is wrong for any believer, therefore, to demean it or its work, or to refuse to participate in it when God has called him to do so. Correct its abuses, which often are many, but don’t demean it. Remember, we worship a King, and are destined to rule with Him “upon whose shoulders is the government.” Our God and Savior clearly have a high regard for that institution. It is not our place to demean or neglect it. –Tim

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