In part one of Christians, Constitution, and Covid-19, we covered a lot of ground. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to check it out. We discussed the importance of asking better questions.
Our two governing questions were 1. “What does God word say?” With this, I stressed that we remember the Psalm 119:160 principle that “the sum of God’s word is truth,” not just the parts we like to cherry-pick. And 2. “What are we to do about it?”
This led us to Romans 13 and Hebrews 10, which helped us ask further questions. The main one that we addressed was, “What or who are our governing authorities?” The answer was, first God and then the Government He established. For us, that’s America. I encourage you to listen back to that live feed.
We concluded by saying that if the Government tells us to FORSAKE assembling, or to stop communicating the gospel, our response is respectful disobedience (But there’s more to that story and we will see that later.
The same Bible that says we are to “obey God rather than man,” also says we must obey men. “Whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”
This is one of those both/and situations, which is tough for a “black-and-white,” “either/or” culture.
As Americans, we know that we can obey God and still appeal if something unlawful happens. Should we appeal? Yes. But what happens if we’re outvoted and have to remain in jail for our allegiance to God?
Today we’ll look at how the twelve Apostles dealt with this kind of scenario. But let’s set the stage by looking at the Apostle Paul and his circumstance in Philippians.As Americans, we know that we can obey God and still appeal if something unlawful happens. Should we appeal? Yes. But what happens if we're outvoted and have to remain in jail for our allegiance to God? Click To Tweet
Christians in Subjection to Governments
[Phl 1:12-14 NASB] 12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment in [the cause of] Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.
We have little understanding of the practical effects that our faithful obedience during persecution can have on others.
With all that said, AND PLEASE HEAR ME, our current situation is not that! Could it become this in the future? Sure. Are people sinful and capable of all manner of evil? Absolutely!
But what our government officials are actually saying in this time is quite simply, “Please do this for the protection of our state/country.” This is not some great persecution of Christians. This is merely a “do this, so people don’t get sick and/or die,” that’s it. Have some of them been wrong? Yes! All the way to the top.We have little understanding of the practical effects that our faithful obedience during persecution can have on others. Click To Tweet
Outrage Cultures & Slippery Slopes
The “outrage culture” we so often denounce has, in fact, invaded the church, and it’s taken the form of people thinking every action taken by any leader with whom they disagree is automatically tyranny and oppression.
If this is you, with all due respect, you are too sensitive. Take a deep breath. God has promised we will get through this, but as Christians, we must do it God’s way.
The next thing I want to point out is the two sides of a common logical fallacy, which rears its ugly head often in times like these. The fallacy in view is called the slippery slope fallacy.
Now (make no mistake), there are slippery slopes in the world, but they must be backed up with credible evidence, and not merely confirmed biases via favorite news sources or pundits.
On the one hand, this fallacy says that ‘bad things (say tyranny, oppression, etc.) will necessarily happen as a result unless we take certain prescribed actions. But, without facts to support such a claim, this is at best one’s personal opinion and at worst fearmongering.
On the other hand, this fallacy can come when someone proposes an action with clear consequences (which everyone can see) while contradicting or downplaying any attempt to point out said consequences.The outrage culture has invaded the church in the form of people thinking every action by a leader they disagree with is tyranny & oppression. If this is you, with all due respect, you are too sensitive. Take a deep breath. Click To Tweet
Let’s consider a couple of examples:
When your mom told you to brush your teeth, or they’d rot and fall out, she was NOT employing the slippery slope fallacy; she was pointing you to an actual slippery slope.
Meanwhile, if someone says, “If we don’t re-open this country right now, we are going to turn into socialist Venezuela.” Or, “Giving in to stay-at-home orders like these is just one more step toward absolute tyranny.” This is the slippery slope fallacy. Why? Because the one doesn’t necessarily have to do with the other.
Don’t conflate strongly suggested or even mandated restrictions with legitimate tyranny. If there’s a tree in the road and you’re being told you cannot drive because it’s unsafe, it’s not the same as the Government taking away your rights to drive on that road simply because.
Better Questions, Biblical Answers
So let’s get to some of these other questions I alluded to yesterday.
- Are we being asked not to practice our faith, or are we being asked not to practice public gatherings? The answer in Ohio is only the latter. It’s actually the decision of our Elder team that canceled church.
If you follow the news closely, you’ll even see stories like what’s happening in California. The Deptartment of Justice just warned Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom that his re-opening policy placed an “unfair” burden on Churches.
Guess what’s happening in this story? Balance of power. How did this come about? Most likely churches speaking up. Is this Christian? Does this follow Romans 13? ABSOLUTELY!
The truth is, in this American system, the process is slow, but slow is not inevitable tyranny. Patience is in short supply. And our fourteen-hour non-stop news cycle isn’t helping.
- How do we practice Romans 13, Acts 4:19; 5:27-29 or the stories we read about in Daniel? Let’s take a look.
Christian Obedience & Respect
[Acts 4:19-21 NASB] 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21 When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened;
In Acts 5, after supernaturally escaping from prison, the Apostles went back to preaching But, what happened when confronted again:
[Act 5:26-29, 33-41 NASB] 26 Then the captain went along with the officers and [proceeded] to bring them [back] without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned). 27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. …
Stay with me. (And you should read verses 30-32 to see I’ve not eliminated anything concerning the point I’m making.
33 But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 “For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 “After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away [some] people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” 40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and [then] released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for [His] name.
So, what do we do as Christians in submission to our government? Well, what we don’t do is start a revolution; the apostles didn’t do that. The church today seems not to understand the difference between revolution and reformation. And for others in different “streams” of the church, revival is also not revolution.
If we’re put in jail, we go to jail. We don’t throw a fit or fight. We rejoice that we are considered worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus! You don’t ever see Christians doing what some today do in the book of Acts. This has been Christianity through all the centuries.
[Rom 12:17-21 NASB] 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath [of God,] for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We lead quiet and peaceable lives, pray for those in authority over us, and submit ourselves to them. And as Americans, we still act like Christ as we appeal if need be.So, what do we do as Christians in submission to our government? Well, what we don't do is start a revolution. Click To Tweet
In the 1600s, Richard Baxter wrote a great section in one of his books. He said, “If the magistrate asks you to refrain from meeting because of pestilence, you do not meet. On the other hand, if the magistrate tries to force you not to meet because of persecution of Christianity, you meet anyway.”
Church, we need to slow down. We need to exhibit patience. We need to identify with our eternal identity first, which is Kingdom citizens. After that, we need to know what God’s word says and do those things. All the while, realizing that God doesn’t just have actions for us to follow, He has reasons for those actions.
Throughout the whole of Scripture, you’ll see that God uses His people to reflect His image into the world. The Bible says that if we have seen the Son, we have seen the Father. So what did Jesus do for His neighbor? His enemy?
He laid down His life for them! And then He told us to take up that very same cross and follow Him!Church, we need to slow down. We need to exhibit patience. We need to identify with our eternal identity first, which is Kingdom citizens. Click To Tweet
How have you responded to the Covid-19 pandemic? With fear? With anger? Or with confidence in God and willingness to submit to his word? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.