“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
(Romans 13:1 ESV)
As Christians, our perspective on religion and politics tends to be rather confused. This is especially true in the day in which we live, where each and every issue is so polarized. It’s true, especially today, when the only options seem to be one extreme or the other.
There is little doubt or question when it comes to the spiritual side of things. It’s clear to us that God is the ultimate authority in the church. It’s clear to us that he reigns over his church and that we’re to submit to him.
When it comes to the government, however, when it comes to the state, we are more than a little confused. It seems to us that, unless we have a Christian president, unless we have Christian legislators, and unless we have Christian judges, God is not in control. It seems to us that he’s not the one in authority.
When it comes to the politics of the day, we would largely say that our leaders are anything but Christian. Even if they profess faith in Christ or claim membership in a church, we would say that they are anything but Christian. And this leads us to the conclusion that God is not in charge.
This would be our conclusion also as we look at the decisions they make. This would be our conclusion as we listen to the words that they speak. This would be our conclusion as it seems that, at every turn, they are contradicting or violating the Word of God.
Our response, then, is that we must win back the state for God. Our response is to raise up something like the Moral Majority to take back control of the government. Our response is to do whatever we can to put God back on his throne.
This shows a faulty understanding of the Lord. It shows a faulty understanding of the world in which we live. And this shows a faulty understanding of Scripture.
We find, in the passage above, that the authorities have been instituted by God. They, in other words, serve at his pleasure. And there is no authority that rules apart from his will.
This is true even in the case of unbelievers who hold power. It’s true even in the case of wicked rulers. And it’s true even of those who reject his Word and continually violate his will.
I realize that this raises some questions. It causes us to ask why God would appoint such people to positions of authority. And it causes us to ask how he can reign if our rulers counter his every desire.
We must realize, however, that God’s ways are higher than our own. We will not always understand what he’s doing. This, in fact, will be the case more often than not.
We must realize also that, as God can work through his people, he can also work through unbelievers. He can use the wicked to accomplish his purpose. This, in fact, is something he’s often done.
The simple fact of the matter is that the Lord reigns. He reigns over the Church, and he reigns over this world in which we live. And this provides us with great comfort.
It provides us with comfort because, no matter how things may seem, we can trust him. It provides us with comfort because, no matter how things may seem, we can know that he is in control. And this fills us with comfort because, no matter how things may seem, his will is going to be accomplished.