“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
The early days of November in America signals election time, when the politicians maneuver for votes and the people cast their ballot for their favorite candidates. And, like it or not, for the next few years we are stuck with whoever wins. If it’s not our kind of candidate, Christians can get pretty down in the dumps.
To hear some of us talk, you’d think that our only hope for righteousness and godliness lies in the hands of the government. I’ll never forget the time when I was speaking to a group in Florida regarding the importance of living for Christ in the deepening darkness of our changing culture. I said, “America has changed, and we’re not going to get our good old America back”—to which a man in the front row blurted out, “Oh, no, that can’t be! If that’s true, we have no hope!”
Since when was our hope to be found in Washington, DC? When did we start thinking that it’s the government’s job to uphold, promote, and protect biblical truth and values? Actually, it’s not such a surprising misunderstanding. Christians in the US have experienced an unusual phenomenon in the history of the world. Rarely, if ever in modern history, has there been a nation built more squarely on the fundamental tenets of a biblical heritage than our nation. But that has all changed. We join Christians throughout time that have lived successfully in nations where Christ is not honored as they light up their dark and decadent world with the light of Jesus.
If you feel betrayed when the government doesn’t advocate truth and righteousness, then you have misunderstood the biblical mandate for those in authority over us. Romans 13:1-14 tells us that their job is to keep the peace, collect the taxes, and rule in authority over their subjects—hopefully for the good of the people. Other than the unique relationship God had with the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, He never assigned government the task of upholding and advancing biblical truth. That’s our job as His followers. The advancement and articulation of godly values is up to us, and quite frankly we no longer have the luxury of always expecting our government to help us in the process.
Christians through the ages have lived under hostile, oppressive, pagan systems and have often thrived in those kinds of environments. This was true of the early New Testament believers who, during times of ruthless political regimes upheld their faith under great cultural pressure. They understood that they, not their governments, were the light of the world. They followed Paul’s instructions to submit to the governing authorities, pay taxes, and even honor, respect, and pray for those in authority (Romans 13:1-7). And they understood that a Christian’s only hope is in the protection that God provides.
When we follow this biblical mandate, we will shift our hope and confidence from the White House to the throne room in heaven. It will realign our attitudes toward our leaders, and release us to get on with the business of being the torchbearers God intends us to be. So no matter who wins the election, remember that it is your high privilege to be the light of your world.
- Read Romans 13:1-7. Paul emphasizes: “There is no authority except that which God has established.” How does your view of God’s sovereignty challenge your attitude toward those in government today?
- What can you do to show your submission to the government and at the same time uphold truth and righteousness?
- Paul instructed Timothy to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2). How often do you pray for government leaders?
- As you meditate on the verses for today, do you feel your attitudes aligning with God’s calling to advance what is good and godly in your world? What kind of actions should grow out of your refocused attitude?