I’m going to get silly a moment about kings:
- When is a piece of wood like a king? When it’s a Ruler.
- What is the first thing a king does when he comes to the throne? He sits down.
- Where do kings get crowned. On the head.
- Which king felt a fraction of his former self? Henry the 1/8th.
- Easter church billboard: The King lives! (And we don’t mean Elvis.)
There are stories throughout history of Kings (and Queens) who blessed their people. There are just as many who yelled, “Off with their heads!” and sent their perceived enemies–sometimes innocent people–to dark dungeons. Not a laughing matter!
I’ve been thinking about leadership as we’re in this silly season prior to the November election. I’ve wondered, how should I respond? I do know the Bible is full of stories of good kings and bad kings–rulers who reigned with great integrity and other leaders who failed miserably.
For example, Hezekiah, king of Judah ruled from 715-686 BC. He was the best (2 Kings 18-20; Isaiah 36-39; 2 Chronicles 29-32).
Sometimes we can’t do anything about the leaders we have. In many countries, citizens have absolutely no choice. We can do our best in a Democracy to vote and install leaders who will be strong, courageous, wise and represent the values taught in the scriptures; but we may still end up with fools, inept leaders or pushy “tyrants.”
So how do we live in light of this? What does God expect of Christian citizens?
1. First and foremost, we must remember we’re a child of the King and our ultimate citizenship is not on earth.
2. God is sovereign and in control.
Nothing happens without God’s knowledge, and He will accomplish His will.
4. God can even use man’s intended foolish choices and wickedness to serve His purposes in our lives (Romans 8:28).
Note: The question of evil in the world and God’s will is a difficult one. A good discussion of this, dealing with one specific horrible time in history under a wicked man, is here.
5. The Christian’s hope is in God, not any government or leader. Jesus is our Savior; not any elected official.
Again, our citizenship is in heaven, and “we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, NIV). Someday, all things will be subject to Him (v. 21).
6. We recognize government is established for our benefit, ideally “to commend those who do right” (1 Peter 2:13-15). Government’s responsibility is to rule for our good. It’s not supposed to be a “terror” to good works, only to evil ones.
Note: This is not license to disobey government just because we don’t like something that riles us, but when government powers run amok, demanding we disobey God, we must consider our “higher power” (Acts 5:29). Sometimes, this may mean suffering or putting our lives in risk in order to stand with the Lord. (See the example of Daniel in 3:18.)
7. God is a God of order, and He established hierarchies of authority to keep things orderly. (For good commentary on this point, read “Christian View of Government and Law” by Kerby Anderson of LeaderU.)
- Government, as noted, was established to maintain order, but it was also designed to restrain evil.
- The Church was established to bring God glory (Hebrews 12:18-24; 1 Peter 2:9-10) and Jesus taught government and church should work together, with the church recognizing and practicing sovereignty in spiritual matters (Matthew 22:21).
- The family was also established under God’s authority with purpose and design (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:20-25; Ephesians 5:22-32; 1 Peter 3:1-7) and the government sometimes steps in to protect spousal/children’s rights when there is abuse.
- Education as an institution was established by God as a function of the family, although tutors and teachers can be a natural extension (Psalm 127:3; Deuteronomy 4:9; Galatians 4:2)
7. We are to respect, honor and pray for our authorities (Romans 13:1-8).
It’s too easy to slam leaders (and even candidates for leadership) instead of discussing principles and policies. And too often we forget to pray for our leaders and God-given institutions. (It’s crucial to pray during each election season.)
8. We are to become “light” in our culture (Matthew 5:16). When we “shine” for the Lord as lights in the world, people may see our good works and bring glory to God.
How do we do this? We can speak out against injustice. We can share the truth of scripture and sincerely love people (which means getting involved in their lives to help them).
I know this can all be a complicated issue, and I don’t wish to simplify these things too much. But I do know this. Whether we blossom under “good kings” or struggle under “bad kings,” God does give us some clear direction about our actions as citizens. He certainly gives us enough insight to be able to make the wisest possible choices.
Have you registered to vote? Are you praying for your leaders? How can you be a light for God in your sphere of influence?
Graphic of Throne courtesty of Pixabay.com