November 2020 Newsletter

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Excerpt from Pastor Parsons' article: Respecting the Governing Authorities



Respecting the Governing Authorities

             It’s that time of year. (Really, it’s been that year.) Elections are here! The time has come to cast your vote. Who will you vote for? What will you vote for? Your candidates have been airing ads that both explain their platform and degrade their opponents. Everything’s about as clear as mud, but I’m sure by now, you know for whom you’re voting. Some of you may even have voted already.

            So, what’s next? It’s time to wait to see the results of the election. Will my candidate win? What if he/she doesn’t? If your candidate loses, how will you respond? Tensions are high on either side of the fence, whether it concerns the presidential election or local elections. Either way, no matter which candidates win, someone is going to be unhappy. So . . . what if it’s you?

            As we begin to see the results of this election, I pray that you remember first and foremost that you are child of God. You are not first and foremost a Republican, a Democrat, or a {fill in the blank}. This is going to influence how you respond. As children of God, we know that in all things, God is in control. Paul wrote in Romans 13, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1)

            Note, this is talking about the positions of authority as well as those who fill them. No matter who is filling which position, we are to honor and respect them, being subject to their authority. Does this mean that everyone in authority is going to do God’s will? Sadly, the answer to that is by-and-large a great big “NO!” It’s very rare that there be a candidate who, not only is a believer, but also lives a Christian life, even as far as his or her political stance is concerned.

            Even with this being the case, that does not give us the freedom of showing them disrespect or speaking poorly of them. It does mean that we may have to be on guard for the kinds of laws they may attempt to enact or enforce. If a law, or even a mandate, should be against God’s will, we are to obey God, rather than man. If the law or mandate is not against God’s will, but you disagree with it, as a believer, you are still bound to follow the commands of the authorities God has placed over you.

            This does not mean that you have to agree with everything they say or do. But if it is not explicitly against God’s will, then you are called to follow it. I have a couple examples from Scripture that may provide encouraging examples to help us be willingly obedient to those God has placed over us.

            Think of King David. Before he was king, he served Saul, an unfaithful king. God spoke to Saul through the prophet Samuel, saying, “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14) King Saul did not do the will of God. He did not lead the people faithfully. And yet, he was the anointed (chosen) leader of God’s people.

            David understood this. Though David was chosen to succeed Saul, he knew that it would not be right to speak or act against the authority God had established. While Saul hunted David, David found himself with the opportunity to kill Saul. His men encouraged him to do so, but David responded to them,

“The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. (1 Samuel 24:6-7) David fully understood that though Saul was an ungodly leader and was trying to kill him, he, David, was still subject to Saul’s authority.

            The apostle Paul provides a New Testament example. After being arrested for sharing the gospel, he was brought before the Sanhedrin for questioning. Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”

Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”

Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’” (Acts 23:1-5)

Though Paul was doing what the Lord had commanded him to do, he was falsely arrested, and the leaders broke the law of the governing authority by striking him. (It was illegal to strike a Roman citizen when he was not found guilty of a crime.) Paul rebuked them. To be clear, it is good and right to rebuke any who sin, but it must be done with gentleness and love. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

Paul did not rebuke them gently, but fell in to sin by lashing out at and speaking evil against the authority God had placed over him. When he realized this, he repented.

I’ve provided these two examples to help us remember that though our authorities may not act according to God’s will, it is still his will that we honor and respect them. It is his will that our actions as Christians will shine forth and give praise to God, even in this area. We do so, not just because it is a command from God, but because we know that great things God has done for us.

He sent Jesus to bear our sins on the cross. That includes even when we sin against our governing (or other) authorities. When we sin, the Spirit moves us to repent of our sins, as Paul did, and know that they have been forgiven in Christ Jesus. May God help us remember such great blessings! Yes, they await us in heave, but they also are ours now. May God help us to serve him faithfully by being obedient and respectful to the earthly authorities he has placed over us. And in all this, may he grant us authorities who are faithful to his Word and his will. God, move our hearts that we remember that we are your children first, and earthly citizens second. Let that motivate us to graciously honor and respect all those in authority. Amen

                                                                                    In Christian love,

                                                                              Pastor Wolf B. Parsons

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