Today I heard a young lady call into a talk show and state that our government leaders are the result of divine providence. While this sounds absolutely fine and great, there are some problems. One of these problems was outlined as the follow-up from the show host that, using her thinking, God “put” President Obama in place. For the sake of this post, I am not going to argue the “is he good or evil” of our current president. But what the talk show host was insinuating was that for one to believe that God has full control over our leaders, we must fully accept that He has placed evil people in office simply to do His will. As I listened and, more accurately, yelled at my radio, I realized that we might need a different perception on this topic.
First, let’s set up some basic theological context. This post is not against the thought that God is in control, but rather strives to remind us all that part of Jesus’ mission was (is) to bring restoration to the Adam to God relationship. Romans 5 tells us, “just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act [Jesus’ death and resurrection] resulted in justification and life for all people.” Justification here doesn’t just mean “sin is covered now” – it actually means a realignment in our relationship with God and His original intent for us. God has realigned our relationship and given us this “new” relationship through Christ Jesus. What was this realignment? Well, to go along with what he told Adam to do in Genesis, He also reminds us in the book of Revelation that He, “has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” For those who remember me teaching on this a long time ago, the greek there speaks to how we are all kings under and deriving our power from the Great King (that’s God for those who are concerned about my theology). So, what we have established so far is that Jesus came to realign us to the Adamic calling, which was to be both Kings and Priests.
Second, Fast forward to the 1740’s and such. There was a spiritual uprising that started in Great Britain and moved its way to the American Colonies that we refer to as “the First Great Awakening.” I almost feel terrible summarizing this amazing movement of God and His people by saying that it focused on one thing – a return to a personal relationship between a person and God the Father with the only mediator being Jesus. Before this time, most leaders in the Church taught that a person’s relationship with God was through another appointed man on the earth. Catholicism (and not knocking our wonderful Catholic brothers and sisters) at the time taught that this salvation was only available through the Pope and his Priests, and the Church of England taught that this was through the King of England. The First Great Awakening reminded every one of the difference between what should be accountability of the saints to one another and our ultimate need for a personal, one on one relationship with God through Christ Jesus alone.
Ok, now we are getting to the good stuff. Third, as we look through history, Spiritual Awakenings always precede governmental or social responses. In this case, the response in the Colonies was that the King of England was not to be our master in all things, but rather was a man just like the rest of us. He was not in fact given to us by God as the ultimate Physical, Spiritual, and Governmental Father figure, but rather we, as “kings and priests” and those in alignment with God were directly linked to God the Father. Ultimately, we are able to govern ourselves (or elect people to govern as we empower them). This, my friends, is the basis for our representative republican government – “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” That is why the Declaration also talks about the colonial individual’s equality with the king of England! Can you imagine such a thought? That American Colonials believe themselves to be Kings?
And we circle back around to the scripture quoted this morning by this wonderful millennial sister – Romans 13:1 – “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” With all of this context, who actually is the governing authority in the U.S.? That’s right friends, we are; “We the People.” We have this wonderful experiment which calls each and every individual in this great country the authority! While we still need to submit ourselves to one another as Paul states to the Ephesians (for this is the reason, as our founding fathers stated, that being founded in christian morals is a must for our government to succeed), it is important not to just put our responsibilities aside and let others take that which was gifted us through Jesus.
Again, this is just a different idea/concept. God values our partnership and our relationship with Him. He has set us up to be leaders in this world. And in the U.S., we have the opportunity to exercise that leadership as individuals through the roles established by our founders. Please do not sit idly by and wait for others to govern you! Submit to one another, but also know that you are called to lead! What do you think?