We find ourselves yet again in a mid-term election year, and the television and radio waves are full of mudslinging campaign advertisements and plenty of promises. On top of all this we have yet another Washington morality scandal, and another person in power stepping down because of his improprieties. It is a good time to return to the Scriptures and see what they say regarding where our focus should be.
The Scriptures are very clear that we should obey the government. Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 bot h make it very clear that the Christian is to obey the government and to give due respect to one’s leaders. Paul further establishes in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 the following:
I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.
We see, then, that God desires us to respect the government and to make prayer and intercession for rulers so that we may live in peace. We recognize, of course, from Acts 5:29 that if the government seeks to impose upon us a law that compels us to act against the will of God, we must obey God and not man, but so far in America this has not been a major problem. There is little reason, then, for us to disobey or disrespect our government: if Peter and Paul expected Christians of the first century to obey the heathen Roman government and to respect the Emperor who believed that he was a god, we can surely respect our American government institutions!
On the other hand, we do not see Christians having much political involvement in the New Testament. Paul certainly was a Roman citizen, and he used the advantages of his Roman citizenship to help him further the Gospel. Everything Paul worked for was the Gospel, for Paul knew that it was the Gospel, not the Roman government, that was God’s power for salvation (Romans 1:16). As Paul says in Philippians 3:20:
For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Over the past two thousand years, governments have risen and fallen. Some have been better than others, for certain, but none of them have been able to save the souls of mankind. Christians have been living under all kinds of governments, and we must continue to seek after that which Paul and others sought after: the preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel changes people. The Gospel leads to people’s behavior conforming to the image of Christ (Romans 6:16-18). It is the Gospel that informs man so that he may strive for righteousness, and only this righteousness that can exalt a nation (Romans 6:16-23, Proverbs 14:34).
Let us not lose our focus. We are blessed to have the freedoms we have in America; let us use them to help free souls from the evil one!