Much discouragement exists over the Supreme Court decision. We are experiencing a major shift in our cultural outlook. Our grandchildren will grow up in a different world, worse than ours. Without vigilance, we will lose them.
This will take the Church in two directions, the nominal church caving in to society and the remnant church standing off against the culture, enabling the world to see the church for who it really is. The sorrow that people feel, if not balanced with an aggressive faith, will not serve them. We looked to government in the hope that it would support us. It let us down, and this has led to discouragement and fear.
Some are called to influence government, like a Daniel. He did it without any expectation of return. He addressed Belshazzar boldly and was willing to suffer for it. He had influence with two world empires, unlike any man in history. We do not look to government to get our job done. We are thankful when it cooperates, not surprised when it does not.
I am grateful for those who connect with government. That is not a responsibility that I feel strongly, nor do I see Scripture directing me to it. I am called to submit, honor, and pray. Christians in government need to make sure they are doing this, or their influence will be skewed.
We don’t compare America to Old Testament Israel. They were a theocracy, America is not. Our founding does suggest that government may be our friend, but that is not our hope. Our confidence is in the government of God.
When the church down through the ages is counter-cultural, it is strong. When it is embraced by government, the church weakens. The government imposes itself, and separation of church and state is not respected. The early church was stronger than when it was melted into the Holy Roman Empire and lost its prophetic voice.
This will be the church’s great hour, more counter-cultural than at any time in our history. The world does not know our message, nor does it respect us. What we do in the next decades will cause it to take notice, such as happened in the early church.
Peter and Paul encouraged submission, honor, and prayer toward governing authorities, including payment of taxes. They did not attempt to influence government overtly or covertly. They were ultimately under another government and another king. Where the two clashed, King Jesus took priority. Otherwise, civil disobedience was not an option. The thought of petitioning a pagan government or writing the emperor was never considered. Nor was the idea that a godless emperor would show them preferential treatment. Paul and Peter bore witness to the kingdom of heaven, knowing that a pagan government would not encourage Christian values. They were not like our American government, with at least a form of godliness and including government servants who were Christians. They expected hostility rather than favor. Paul named the government that condemned him to death the servant of God.
Peter called Christians aliens and exiles, not surprised when suffering under unjust leaders, and they did not appeal to government. Paul took advantage of his Roman citizenship and expected the same kind of freedoms afforded other citizens of the state, but he did not have unrealistic hopes. He did not expect to be released from prison when he wrote to Timothy, and he did not call on friends to pray for his release.
Our great hope comes from Isaiah: “The government will be upon his shoulder… Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.”