Sunday, October 17, 2004

GOD'S WILL FOR RULERS IS OURS TOO


The idea of a "separation between church and state", which originally was intended to hinder the state from encroaching on religious rights, has become a tool to control the church. Almost daily we hear of the "separation doctrine" being used to force the removal of public references to God, and our godless society is proving intolerant of the Christian message.

The founding fathers of our land never dreamt of establishing a godless government. Thankfully, during this election season, there are plenty of politicians talking about their faith. John Kerry is one who says he is very much influenced by his faith as he speaks on the merits of faith and works. But if reports are true, the Senator may have been excommunicated by his church for his support of abortion. President Bush prays and expresses his appreciation for all the prayers made for him. Arnold Swarzenegger is talking about how "gay marriage ought to be between a man and a woman." That was funny. Governor Ventura's statement that religion is a "crutch for weak-minded people" deserved all of the criticism it received. That was not funny. I would dare say that not too many preachers failed to express their opinion on that statement. Daschle of South Dakota, and many others, have been talking about their faith. Wherever you turn these days, politicians are talking about their faith. In one sense we should be heartened that such influential figures feel compelled to talk about faith, but everything they say isn't right.

God is interested in rulers. The kings of Israel were to be righteous men who meditated on the Word (Deut. 17:14-20). When God selected the king, it was a man "after his own heart" (1 Sam. 13:14). And God wasn't merely interested in the rulers over Israel; He was interested in other nations too. God judged the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Ninevites, Edomites, Canaanites, Amorites, and more. He judged them on the basis of their actions. God would have destroyed Nineveh if they had not repented with respect to Jonah's preaching. He did destroy the Amorites when their iniquity was more than He could tolerate (Gen. 15:16).

God is interested in Rulers today. David predicted the coming of Christ and God's will that rulers and judges of the earth give homage unto Him (Psalm 2:7-12). Paul wrote to Timothy that "entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority" (1 Tim. 2:1,2). Christians aren't just singing Kum-ba-ya and passing the Bread. Christians have a powerful interest in praying that spiritual and discerning men be in positions of power. Paul offered one reason Christians are praying for their rulers: "so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity" (2:2). The Revelation letter is a message of hope to persecuted Christians, and it is also a message of judgment on the persecutors. John makes it clear in several passages that Jesus is "King of kings, and Lord of lords" (Rev. 1:5; 2:27; 12:5; 17:14; 19:16).

Christians are interested in having good rulers because God is interested, and because they will have to obey and honor them. "For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor" (Rom. 13:6,7) Rulers are called ministers of God "for good". Their job is to praise those who do good and punish evildoers (1 Pet. 2:14). This requires that they be discerning and wise in their judgments. While God enjoins Christians to be good citizens under whatever system of government they find themselves, in this country they have a unique and wonderful opportunity to select the nation's leaders. Believers have a right and responsibility to speak out and answer the religious error spouted by politicians. The monumental act of voting for President ought to reflect the principles, values, and faith of being a Christian. To the extent that we have a say in the political (and moral) direction of the land in which we live, there too our faith should be exercised. In America we have the privilege to vote and elect the best or most righteous individual. Our choice at the voting booth ought to reflect the values we have learned from our Heavenly Father.

Christians are Pro-Life and should vote Pro-Life. Because it is a baby in the womb from the moment of conception, there is no denying that abortion kills the life process and brings about the death of an innocent child. People of faith should vote for the man who respects life. And in these important times, we also need to vote for the candidate who will keep marriage between a man and a woman. There are many moral issues we might pray over, but these are at the top of the list. The decisions our politicians make can create an atmosphere of "peace and tranquility" or they create an atmosphere of persecution. When we go to the voting booth, it seems reasonable to conclude that we need to vote with God's will in mind.

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