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 – James 3:1-12
    James 3:1-12 New International Version (NIV) Taming the Tongue 3 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.  
  • Reading 2 – Mark 8:27-38
    Mark 8:27-38 New International Version (NIV) Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah 27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” 30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. Jesus Predicts His Death 31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” The Way of the Cross 34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”