Minister's Thoughts

Pray Today

What should the Believer’s attitude to governments be?

Someone has suggested that people should obey the decrees of the President of the United States of America, and by extension all governments, because the Bible says so. Is this true? The answer is YES, and NO.

In the First Letter of Peter in Chapter 2 and verses 13-14 believers are told to submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. Verse 17 emphasises that this is also a matter of respect: Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.

Similarly in Romans 13 and verses 1 and 5 believers are told: Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. And in verse 5: Therefore it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. It is also in the Letter to the Romans (13:6) that believers are enjoined to pay their taxes: This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

There are many other passages relating to the attitude of believers to government, but the counsel of Paul to Titus in Chapter 3 gives guidance that could well be adopted by citizens, governments, politicians, media and those who tweet and communicate by various forms of social media: The Apostle Paul says, Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no-one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome (Romans 13:8) also gives an excellent account of what the principle hallmark of the Law should be: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

So then YES obedience to government provides for security and good order, but must it always be obeyed by people of faith? Well, NO.

For example when Peter and the other apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest (Acts 5:27-29), their reply was “We must obey God rather than human beings!” Peter and John had already given a similar reply to the Sanhedrin who had commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. At that time they had said: “Which is right in God’s eyes; to listen to you, or to Him?” (Acts 4:19.)

When all is said and done for believers and for governments and authorities it is all about serving and not being served. In Matthew’s Gospel in Chapter 20 and verses 25-28 Jesus said this to his disciples: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom to many.

Above all, we should always consult the Bible before we act, rather than acting first and then trying to find a Bible passage that supports our decision.

Rev. Bob Anderson
Minister

  • Reading 1 – Hebrews 4:12-16
    Hebrews 4:12-16 New International Version (NIV) 12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Jesus the Great High Priest 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  
  • Reading 2 – Mark 10:17-31
    Mark 10:17-31 New International Version (NIV) The Rich and the Kingdom of God 17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[a]” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[b] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” 28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”