Today’s government, at the federal, state, and local levels, has been savaged with corruption and abuses of power. The persons who are indicted or found guilty of these offenses disgrace themselves and give those who had served with them the stain of impropriety. It is fair to conclude that most people who aspire to serve the public do so with the best of intentions. We should note that God has declared that government, as an institution, is His authority on earth. Since God is always in control, He is the one who brings forth or allows men and women to enter public service, but it is these same persons who bear the responsibility to do what is right and earn the public trust. How is it that those who are in public service, who were chosen by God, at times wind up leaving their positions in disgrace? It is important for us to know that, while God has not given up on us as a nation and as a people, there will always be consequences from sin and disobedience of God’s Word, especially in public service. Rather than asking God to intervene in these areas where corruption is entrenched within government, God is challenging each of us to take a stand, step up and make a difference that will change our view of government, politics, and the prevailing apathy that nothing will ever change. Our response is to pray for persons who plan to run for office, who are appointed to these positions, and for God to work through these persons in a mighty way for the good of the people. “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We are also responsible to pray for God to bring forth people who have the desire to serve the Lord while serving mankind. This is also just as important as praying for our present leadership, because God correlates good leadership with being in line with His will. “This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Even though today’s government is secular in nature, it remains a God-ordained institution. “Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2). With this responsibility on not only the public servant to act in God’s perfect will but also the people to submit to government authority, the body of Jesus Christ should have a very important role in policy and politics. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. People have become disillusioned with politics, and many believe that there is no need to go to the polls and vote anymore because, in their minds, it doesn’t matter who wins the election because nothing will get accomplished anyway. Voter apathy is at an all-time high. In order to counter this strong spirit of indifference, we need to remember that God can truly make a change, and a difference, because of our prayers for change (Romans 12:2). In faith, God can effectuate that change.
We also need to hear how God is speaking to us, individually and collectively, about our roles as Christians where we live and work. The Christian’s highest authority is God. In Rome, the head of the state, the emperor, was their God. Romans thought that the Christians were atheists because they did not look at the emperor as their chief authority. Rome’s societal problems were rooted in their power, authority, and lifestyle choices, which were all contrary to God’s will and authority. The result of this rebellion led to the demise of their society, the entire Roman Empire, which was, at that time, inconceivable. As we look to God as our supreme authority, we draw upon power that surpasses our reasoning and understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Even though our government is far from perfect, our responsibility is to remain faithful to God rather than men. “But Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than men‘” (Acts 5:29). “Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:7). This is more about being obedient to God than to discount the role of members of society, those who serve in our government, and the importance of government is in our lives (1 Peter 2:13-14).
There are certainly those who are in places of authority within government who have used their position of authority or office to enact laws that were harmful to the church. This should not deter us from continuing to pray for change within our government. We are to pray for our leaders to make the proper decisions, and our role is to respect those in authority (Romans 13:4-5). As long as we look to God and focus on Him in this area, He will bring about change in His perfect timing. Our challenge is to be prepared to move and act when there are opportunities to bring about change for the better, just as you are to do in your regular service for Christ. “For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love” (Galatians 5:13).