Submit to Authority. Fight for the Cause

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Since the election the talk of the Christian blogosphere has been a reminder and call to submit to authorities as the Bible tells us in Romans 13. Any reader of my blog knows I am a political dissident. How do I react to Romans 13? I believe the whole Scripture, I believe we are called to submit… but also:

1. Don’t give up the freedom that we have to speak out. We have been given great freedom in this country to speak out, to protest, to be active participants in the political process. It is not more Biblical to be silent, it is not sinful to speak with passion. Our laws give us that freedom and therefore we are in full compliance with Romans 13. BUT, if we neglect that right, if we stay silent, we may hasten a time when we no longer have that freedom.

2. The Bible is not without example of descent. A quick search revealed an article at http://web.acsalaska.net/~dcornwall/holydissent.html finding examples in the Bible of political rebellion, illegal militia, criticizing government conduct and legal proceedings, war opposition, refusal to obey orders, etc.  A student of history will also recognize that the idea of political liberty is rooted in the Reformation. There would be no democracy without it.

Dissecting all of this is beyond the scope of this article and not a thought exercise I have worked through. For the purposes of this article we will conclude that submission to authority does not mean a lack of active opposition, it does not mean weakness.

3. Can we pray for CHANGE in Obama’s heart? Yes we can. We pray for our leaders, and many Christians are now doing just that. But what are we praying for? This was going through my head in care group last night and I was delighted at the prayer of a brother for Obama to be saved, to be postured towards God as Nebecanezzar was.

A non-Christian doesn’t enjoy the blessing and protection of God. A non-Christian does not have godly wisdom. Romans tells us the condition of the heart of an unbeliever:

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

So in our prayers it is not really wisdom or protection that we are after, but a changed heart. Without a changed heart, Romans suggest wisdom and ultimately protection are not even possible. Short of a changed heart, it is intervention that we need. Cyrus didn’t really have a changed heart or wisdom, but God’s intervention caused him to make a decree favorable to God’s people.

These may be semantics, but it fills out the total picture of submission to authority. We’re not to bring a posture of disobedience, we should check our heart. But the action of submission to authority is not our primary goal, its not our passion. It is a duty that we render while we continue within a godly framework to defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow.

Don’t lose the fire, don’t give up the fight, do it in a way that also recognizes God’s sovereignty over all authorities.

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8 Responses to Submit to Authority. Fight for the Cause

  1. Susanna Rose says:

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head! It is more than submission in the case of politics, especially in this season when our president elect will likely put many wicked things into place. Carrying out our duty of acknowledging him as leader of our country yet still fighting for something more noble than what he brings…

    You say it well. I don’t!;)

  2. Grace says:

    So true. As Christians we have to put what God values before all else. It is likely that what God values will not be what Obama stands for.

  3. sarah youn kang says:

    hi susanna & rick, i was reading susanna’s blog which led me to here. good points:) i agree with God’s call to submit to authority. it’s so easy for me to get lost in the emotions, media portrayals, and intricacies of political debates/emotions, and neglect what God says about the whole matter. in addition to praying for a changed heart, tim & i have been noticing that sometimes God’s command to love one another gets overlooked in the political scene. whether it be Bush, McCain, Obama, Palin, etc… it just makes me uncomfortable to witness some of the unloving behavior/attitudes people have toward them. i mean, that’s possibly someone’s child, spouse, parent, and/or sibling! and most importantly, to ‘love one another’ is God’s commandment (crucial yet difficult to follow…maybe that’s why he kept reminding us of it throughout the Bible).

    not trying to offend anyone – i have difficulty with this commandment too:) hopefully our country will grow to love our presidents, regardless of their sins and in the midst of fighting for the right causes. trying to trust that ultimately God is sovereign and in control…we are but mere men (err…and women:))

    sorry to write so much – this has been on my mind much lately. hope you two are well and we soon you soon:)

  4. sarah youn kang says:

    oh btw, this was one article which got me thinking about what i wrote above. i think it can apply to not only the treatment of Bush, but also other presidents/political figures:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122584386627599251.html

  5. bchallies says:

    Rick, It is my understanding that Presbyterian ministers were as essential part of the American Revolution. They were so vocal about the perceived abuses of the British, and the necessary response, that they were called the “black battalions”, or something along that line…George Whitefield helped the cause as he preached up and down the thirteen colonies…I agree with you…Mom

  6. jchallies says:

    Justin just informed me that Mohawk has an order for 900,000 yards of carpet for domestic army bases. I think he prefaced army bases with ‘new’. Methinks that such facilities may well be the final destination of political dissenters. I would have preferred Pergo or, better still, hardwood. I suppose wall to wall will have to do and besides our prayer rugs will stand out better against a neutral background. Don’t you agree?
    Dad

  7. Chris says:

    Well said, Rick and Momma Rick. This country wouldn’t exist without proper dissent from established authority. Further, if we are to obey the law of this land today, let us not forget that the first document of the US law code is The Declaration of Independence, which states:

    …whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [defense of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…

    No matter what elected officials tell us, it is the law of the land to alter or abolish an oppressive government.

  8. vicki says:

    The BLACK REGIMENT PASTORS OF THE AMERICAN
    REVOLUTION preached hell fire and brimstone
    against the tyranny of the British.
    THEY WERE THE LEADERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION!
    Churches preached against evil leaders back then.
    1954 Sen. Lyndon B Johnson put a line in a bill
    that made it against the law for churches to speak
    against candidates in elections.
    BEFORE THAT THE CHURCH WAS VERY POLITICAL as the
    democrat churches are today…(Jerimiah Wright)
    The dems get away with hate speech in their churches
    such as Jeremiah Wright “God damn America” sermon.
    He was obamas pastor for 20 yrs ….
    It is time for the US Congress to give the rights
    back to the churches.
    some pastors are defying the unconstitutional law
    against free speech for churches at this time.
    the IRS brought chgs against one of the churches and
    then dropped them. That is because if it goes
    to the supreme court the IRS will lose the whole
    nation will then know….it was all a lie and they
    can say what they want….it is called FREE SPEECH
    and your rights do not stop at the church door!!!!

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