This month, we celebrate the births of two acclaimed presidents: Washington and Lincoln. As such, we should briefly consider the necessity and blessing of government, and how God uses it to advance his plan.
Throughout history, government has not always been highly respected. The Church father Augustine stated, “Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?” The philosopher Thomas Paine concurred. “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” Even Thomas Jefferson said, “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so [it] will not become a legalized version of the first.” Today, many echo similar sentiments, perhaps more colorfully.
In light of such attitudes about government, what should Christians think?
First, we know that God establishes all governments—even corrupt ones. “No authority exists except by God” [Romans 13:1]. As such, we owe our government respect and allegiance because “the one who rebels against the authority is opposing God’s institution” [v. 2].
At the same time, government can be a blessing. It provides peace and stability to society. It is God’s “agent…to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” and his “servant for our benefit” [v. 4] to ensure that freedoms—including worship—are maintained.
It is sad that today Church and state are no longer on the same field as they once were. Long ago, both understood that they answered to God. However, society has separated them, and today government acts as if it were answerable to no one—not even God!
Christians must remember that God establishes government. He causes nations and leaders to rise for his purpose, and then he allows them to fall.
In spite of the boasts of rulers and the sometimes reckless actions of government, take comfort that “the One enthroned in heaven laughs” [Psalm 2:4]. He controls everything and “works for the good of those who love him” [Romans 8:28].
Jim Grasby is principal of Lakeside Lutheran High School.
Reach him at 920.648.2321 or email@example.com