Man-to-Man October 2016
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” I Peter 2:13-15
Let me assure you brothers here and abroad that it was not my intent to take up a man’s relation to his civil government at this pivotal time in the USA. It just fell out in the outline I have been following in considering a man’s various relationships. So be it. I shall not take on Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump. Are you disappointed or relieved?
To the Reformed Presbyterian Church of NA the topic of civil government and our relation to it as Christians is so deeply entwined in our history, it almost seems redundant to discuss the
topic. But not so. The topic has its true relevance as the word from I Peter above emphasizes.
And yet in our respective cultures today what the Bible says about anything, let alone civil government, seems almost irrelevant in the public sector. But it’s not. The whole idea of civil government flows right out of Genesis 1 where God ordained mankind to “have dominion” over every part of the creation. In fact, while liberal scholars scoff at the relevance of Genesis, the whole creation (note that word) harks to a Creator Who not only made all things, but He also “governs” all things. And while western society seeks to extinguish any relation to the Supreme Governor (which involves accountability vs. autonomous freedom), it’s there, both in terms of the Bible and in terms of western history.
So, I suppose it makes sense to say that we should still hold civil government in respect, not cynicism and abandon. I remember preaching a series on civil government, and one of our members came to me afterwards quite excited. (It was Romans 13.) She had been a member a relatively brief time and had not fully caught the history of our forefathers in Scotland who fought for due respect for Jesus Christ as Mediatorial King over both church and state. She was excited and said she was going to send tapes of the series to our mayor. She did. He happens to be a Christian so received them accordingly.
So my thrust in this month’s “epistle” is simply this: “The LORD reigns!” The point is clearly made in “Chariots of Fire.” And it’s clear in Psalm 2. If you can’t recall it, reread it. It will give you comfort as well as perspective. This does not mean we are therefore exempt from action to rule or reaction by the enemies of the cross. In the same way Jesus’ enemies rejected Him and crucified Him to get rid of Him, so have Christians ever since endured from time to time that same rejection. Many of our forebears in Scotland died for the same cause just as many today suffer. Jesus is King. Handel expressed it in his “Hallelujah Chorus.” So we look beyond “the news” to know how King Jesus will direct the coming days. That doesn’t make me passive as a citizen. It directs my prayers and also motivates my action … for Him!
KenG blogs regularly at MAN TO MAN. He is a retired Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America minister and was the pastor who led Rosaria Butterfield to Christ.