True, God ordained the powers that be or authority as far back as the days of Adam and Noah and Moses. Some of the first civil laws given in those days have served as the basis of some of the human laws we abide by today. Human laws and human government were both instituted to regulate man’s life on the basis of the standard of what’s considered to be right and wrong. But arguably the most popular (and misunderstood) scripture on authority, Romans 13, has inappropriately been used to oppress humanity in the name of God. So, true, in God’s plan He provides for authority, but, He’s not responsible for their actions. In fact, if those in power get out of line, they will be judged by God, the Highest Authority of all.
It is important to grasp that the men and women in power are not God’s servants in government unlessthey do what is right by the people they govern. The Bible outlines the duties of those in power, that they should use their power toLearn to do good; Work for justice; Help the down-and-out; Stand up for the homeless; and Go to bat for the defenseless(Isaiah 1:17). No civil servant should fool themselves to believe that aside from the kind of good work that God recognizes, that they are doing God’s work.
If change in government needs to occur, it’s up to humans to make it happen. After all, God doesn’t vote nor does He run this fallen world. As believers, we have dual citizenship, meaning that we’re citizens of heaven and of the earth. But since earth is our current home, we cannot have our eyes so fixed on Jesus that we don’t look horizontally at the fact that who’s in government and how they govern matters. We have to live in this world and as agents of salt and light, we have to use our influence and our standards to expose darkness with our light. We are not dishonoring God’s command when we speak truth to power or when we do not align with or embrace their ways, but instead we are bold, keepers of a higher standard, and are following a long history of doing the same. Think Moses to Pharaoh and the Three Wise Men to King Herod and the Apostle Paul to King Agrippa. I don’t know about you, but like them, I would rather obey and honor God than men (Acts 5:29).
Since human government is part of God’s moral government to preserve human society on the earth, as citizens of the earth, it is our duty as such to establish, maintain, support, and engage in human government. We should not only vote in every election, but we should also offer our input and serve in public office as we are led and graced to.I know some people have reservations about discussing politics because of our differences of opinion and or party affiliations, but it’s our perspectives that invite us to reason together and solve our most pressing issues. So, it’s not really about politics, it’s about improving the lives of people. Even more, if those in power refuse to reason together, they do a disservice to those they’re charged to serve.
No doubt, we are subject to the governing authority, but we are not called to submit to what God does not stand for. We are to speak truth to power graciously, but assertively and consistently. I leave you with a point made by Dr. Martin Luther King, meanwhile confined to a Birmingham Jail, on Christians being subject to authority:
“One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”