Now What Should I Do With Them?
Americans know their rights but we are struggle with managing them.
The present civic anger being displayed by some is to be expected. When one believes his self-autonomy is sacred, even the president and congress is expected to serve him. Many have taken to the streets acting as if nobody should expect them to give up anything for their country let alone for their neighbors. It is no surprise that many feel this way but I am surprised by those who bear the name of Jesus as Christians who think that God would have them protest against local, state, and federal authorities.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, can I speak to you? One behavior is expected by the citizens of earthly kingdoms but another behavior is expected of those who claim Jesus as their Lord. You see, God’s Word does not care if you live in a Communist state or in a Republic. Be it 20A.D. or 2020A.D., its principles are not designed to “fit” with any certain form of government except His. Christianity does not fit best in China or in America or India or Israel. The fact is, His Kingdom is not of this world and it does not fit in any other kingdom. Nor is He Lord of any other people. He is Lord over His people and whether they live now or in the Kingdom to come, His teachings govern them. The Truth is, “your citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20) and God’s Word is the highest law we are called to obey in any country, in any generation, in submission to any kind of leader. Furthermore, God warns all believers about resisting the government based on the principle of His sovereignty over what any government does (Rom. 13:1-2).
But, you are thinking, didn’t Paul go to jail? Didn’t the Apostles break the law? They were often dragged before the local magistrates weren’t they? Yes they were. Many Saints down through history protested and paid the price but what did they protest? Only one thing: that they had to obey God. That was it. “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). As citizens of God’s Kingdom, they had a higher command. “Make disciples” (Matt.28:19-20). To quit telling the Gospel would be direct disobedience to Jesus so they chose to disobey government and to obey God. The only time a believer ever disobeys the government is when the government orders him to disobey God. As one persecuted saint said, “We disobey because we must obey.” Christians can submit to laws that are unconstitutional but we cannot submit to laws that are unbiblical. An unconstitutional law is not the same as an unbiblical law. The scriptures do not teach “we must obey the constitution rather than man.” Christians can submit to laws that are unconstitutional – they do it every day in other lands – but we cannot submit to laws that are unbiblical.
And there is so much more we are getting wrong as believers when it comes to the stewardship of our “rights.”
For example, what does it mean to…
- …be a disciple? “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). Where is the cross in demanding you live life as you want to? Where is self-denial in yelling at your magistrates for having placed reasonable and short-term limitations on you? Did you scream about a right to drive when you were 13? You accepted limits on your right to move about freely.
- …obey the second great commandment? “Love your neighbor…”. I fail to understand why caution for another’s health is easily cast aside by regenerated people. Is it over money? Why demand opportunity to have your community and family exposed to danger as a right? Surely, you wouldn’t let someone do that to you. Being reasonable about a gradual reopening of life as we once knew it is safest for all. Even a Sunday School kid knows Jesus would want that. Have we lost all self discipline and restraint in the face of discomfort and material loss?
- …be a member of Christ’s body? Even when we have a right, at times, saints are told to lay it down. Even when their claim is just, Paul said it is best to not demand your way but to let others have their way for their safety and well being. “…if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.” (Rom. 14) To help us discern the right time to lay down our rights, God gives us principles.
- Does it edify others? Will I cause other believers to stumble? (1 Cor. 8:9, 13)
- Does it equip me? “Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable…” (1 Cor. 6:12 ampc).
- Does it control? Does this dominate my life and mind? (1 Cor. 6:12)
- Does it exalt Christ? Will this reveal the greatness of God to others? (1 Cor. 10:31-33)
Believers have rights but we are commanded to steward them according to the above principles. You need to think of how this may impact others and the name of God in your community. Should you join with those who are capable of inciting violence against our leaders? I wonder how many county squares will have protesters openly bearing arms. There are lines Christian should never cross.
This stewardship of your rights is your responsibility to God. God will not judge you on how good an American you were. He will judge you on how good a Christian you were. If we follow Christ as our example, we must deny self and take up our cross.. That’s our holy protest – against the flesh, the world, and the devil. No placards needed. Marching is the easy way out. Living with limitations for a few more days and weeks is small potatoes compared to the cost some have paid securing our safety and our rights as a nation. I pray you protest against your flesh and selfish will and not our civic leaders. Before you know it, this will all be over and, with hindsight, we’ll all better understand what happened. Until then, I recommend believing God’s way is best and obeying His word.