Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Faithful Christians Make the Best, but Sometimes the Most Annoying, and Even Occasionally the Most Dangerous, Citizens

I saw someone link to [this article] via social media today. I began to comment, but as often happens with me, it would have ended up being something of a "thread hijack," so I decided to do the polite thing and post here instead. (Perhaps the "wise" thing would have just been to select all and delete, which is my default way to end typing a comment, so I hope that I am not being a fool.)

First, the idea that the government can save everyone is a tremendous arrogance before the face of God, which violation of the first commandment was one of the most frequent and greatest charges against the nations in Scripture
(other than Israel, whom the Lord blasted roughly equally with 2-4 as well). Deification of the state is among the greatest sins of our nation. Maybe the greatest, but with the number of them, and how great they are, who can do that moral calculus?

Second, in the Hebrew of Deut 24:6, "living" is actually nefesh, "soul" or "life." We get the word "livelihood" from the biblical concept that since God has appointed to each his property, the means of acquisition, and his wages (cf. for instance James 5:4), 8th commandment violations are 6th commandment violations. Taking one's means of supporting himself is, before God, an act of murder (and you don't have to actually tally up whether he dies for that to be true), and therefore must never be done by civil authority, except in that rare and difficult providence, where God has assigned to the magistrate the dreadful duty of weighing life against life.  

It is not just for the current circumstances that we need to recover these principles in American government. 

I've written a couple times, recently, trying to help believers, as we address our magistrates for the current circumstances. 

For those who have believing friends who are interested in speaking clearly from Scripture (this is what the Lord says He uses to change hearts, and not just minds, both of which are desperately needed, but the former more than the latter), I hope the following links will be helpful. They're not as "technical" as the first two paragraphs above.

But these are also principles that we need to keep repeating as we interact with civil authorities, educate others for voting purposes, raise our children to hold office, etc. Faithful Christians make the best citizens, because out of reverence for Christ, we submit. We do not act like rabble simply because we disagree. We endure hardship. We pay even that which is confiscatory—our God has warned us that this is what sinners do when they have authority. The Lord will judge; vengeance belongs to Him, and He is full of wrath. Romans 13:1 is immediately preceded by Romans 12:18–21. Who else will pray for the state according to the Word of Christ, and through the blood and righteousness of Christ? Faithful Christians must do so.

But faithful Christians also sometimes make the most annoying citizens, because that submission is only out of reverence for Christ, which we (shouldn't) stop reminding the state about. We do not submit because of fear for our lives. If we are faithful, we fear disobeying Jesus far more than we fear losing our earthly life. And they should fear disobeying King Jesus too. But who else will tell them that they should fear Him and what He wants from them? Faithful Christians must be the ones to do so. 

And, as submission approaches the place where it runs counter to some believers' duties as lesser magistrates, Christians can actually end up being "dangerous" citizens out of submission to an authority that is higher than any earthly magistrate, yet to whom governance over a smaller number has been assigned. Just because they don't participate in the same threatening-looking anarchic displays as the Antifa types doesn't make biblical believers less dangerous.  In fact, the resolved conviction by which they live "quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and reverence" (1Timothy 2:2) also makes them willing to die, when submission to Christ comes to require principled resistance.

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