November 2019 Newsletter
With the Canadian federal election behind us, and the American election in the news and on the horizon for next year, the idea of government — its responsibilities and failures — is on the minds of many. Politics can be one of those topics which is seen as taboo because of how divisive it can be. Even among confessing Christians, our political views and ideologies can sometimes differ immensely. Not only do we sometimes differ among ourselves, but even more often do we differ with the secularising tendencies of our culture. This leads naturally to the question of how we as Christians relate to our civil government.
St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Rom. 13:1). If Paul can say this while being a subject of the first century Roman Empire, it surely is still applicable to those in twenty-first century liberal democracies. In fact, the commandment to honour our father and mother implies that we should “not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honour them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.” (Small Cat.: fourth commandment). Why? Because government is “God’s servant for your good.” (Rom. 13:4) God doesn’t want society to collapse into a chaos where the bullies and power-brokers do what they like and get away with it. Even in countries where people hate the authorities and fear the police, when someone commits a murder or even a serious robbery everybody affected by it wants good authorities and good police who will find the culprit and administer justice. That is a basic, and correct, human instinct. We don’t want to live by the law of the jungle. We want to live as human beings in an ordered, properly functioning society. God has given us civil government as a gift, to serve this purpose.
Christians are called to believe that civil government is there because the one true God wants his world to be ordered, not chaotic. This does not mean that whatever a government does is automatically sanctioned by God, nor does it mean that a particular government automatically has his approval. It is merely to say that some government is always necessary, in a world where evil flourishes when unchecked. But, it also means that Christians can and should take it upon themselves to speak out against injustices, inequalities, and issues which need to be addressed. (See for example Matthew 14:3-5; 23:1-36; Amos 2:6-7; 4:1; 5:10, 12). Our government is also in great need of our constant prayers. (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
As the Church year moves towards it’s close, we are reminded of an important truth we need to keep in mind. The last Sunday of the Church year is called “Christ the King” Sunday. Christians today need to consider both what it means that God wants his world to be governed under the rule of appropriate law and that Jesus, crucified and risen from the dead, is now enthroned as the king of heaven and earth. Our king has purchased us “with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, so that [we] may be His own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.” This is most certainly true! Amen.
Rev. Matthew Fenn