The other day an individual tried to convince me that our Lord was a socialist. I remarked that if we exclusively looked at Acts 2:40-47 and Acts 4:32-37 where the believers met in homes and shared their belongings plus the numerous references to the poor, one might make that assumption. I then directed the conversation to the more critical matter of the Gospel.
Clearly, we must look at the whole of what Scripture teaches and in context, and bear in mind that unless there is a contravention of God’s commandments, we are to be subject to governing authorities which God has ordained (Romans 13:1). In addition we are to pray for them. Discerning Bible students know that in God’s economy we need to read the Bible before making sense of the events in the newspaper and not the other way around. Too many professing Christians make the mistake of trying to recontextualise the Bible into our contemporary paradigm and they inevitably end up as confused and ungrounded as the liberal so- called ‘theologians’.
We might ask why leaders who are unfathomably destructive are permitted by God to hold high positions of office and cause so much harm to so many? Jeremiah would remind us that God plants and uproots leaders (Jer. 1:9-11) and He also has His purposes. Isaiah informs us that His thoughts and ways far exceed ours (Isa. 55:8-9). The Lord used Pharaoh to demonstrate His power and glory throughout the earth and showed both Egypt and Israel that He was the Lord (Exod. 9:16). We must remember that God is not in the dock and any attempt to irreverently question God’s judgement reveals our inadequacy, gross incompetence, lack of humility and sinful thought processes. When God questioned righteous Job, He revealed something of His omnipotence (Job 38:1-42:6). We should of course seek God in prayer regarding these lofty matters though with an attitude of submission and being mindful that one day we will have to give an account for every idle word we have ever spoken.
We may question where do we draw the line when submitting to governmental authorities? Whilst the apostles were on trial, they testified that whilst the Sanhedrin tried to prevent them from preaching the gospel, they were compelled to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Daniel continued praying despite the apparently fateful warnings and God delivered him from the lion’s den. His three friends obeyed God rather than Nebuchadnezzar and He preserved them in the fiery furnace which scorched some of those casting them into the fire.
The diagnosis is that God sees the eternal perspective whereas we so frequently view only our myopic anthropocentric perspective. The Lord Jesus never formed a political party and neither does He fit into our petty human centred parties, political persuasions or causes. Any attempt to do is futile. It demonstrates that we are in effect trying to suggest how the God who knows everything and created all things should govern the universe in the way that we see fit. God is sovereign. It is like an ant trying to give Einstein a tutorial regarding the theory of relativity.
We must conform to His will. We need to be informed by His word. We need to be transformed to His likeness if we ever have a hope of acting wisely and with true integrity.
When the world doesn’t get its way, its advocates throw their toys out of the pram and protest usually in a human centred way and often in a childish manner. We need to replace our humanistic presuppositions with theological certainties if we are to live holy lives in an unholy environment. Genuine change needs to come from within firstly through the act of regeneration by our providential Lord and then through ongoing sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Then by His grace we can profoundly benefit those around us in the long term.
God’s word and judgements are perfect. Our opinions are flawed. It we really want to make our society fairer or more just then we would be well advised to intensely study the entirety of the Scriptures and amend our laws to His decrees and principles.
Some may think the above is idealistic and not really practical though modern day saints have proved otherwise. Think of the enormous benefits to our society from godly men like William Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury, George Muller and David Livingstone. In more recent times Christian Concern and the Christian Institute are doing a terrific job and are defending those upholding Christian values and they deserve our support. We can also write to our local members of parliament and those in positions of leadership and influence. Whatever we do in word or deed it should be for God’s glory rather than humanistic centred causes. All glory be to God alone!