February 26, 2018
Our nation continues to struggle with what our government should, or should not do, to try and halt the terrible trend of mass shootings in this country. While people grieve over the senseless loss of their child while at school, talking heads offer their perspective from their particular point of view, but with no real answers. For followers of Christ, we are no different than anyone else, we want to do something to keep these events from taking place. Christians, who have suggested that the absence of prayer and belief in God in our public schools has contributed to the violence, have been mocked by some who blame God for not preventing these terrible events. David Barton, an acclaimed historian and President of WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization, whose research confirms that America’s educational system was founded on studying the Bible and teaching biblical morality in schools well into the 20th Century stated, “Not only was the Bible the center of public education, students in American public schools were taught Christian doctrine and memorized scripture as an intricate part of their public education.” While there is no simplistic answer to the current despicable trend of mass murder, it cannot be ignored that since the Bible and the influence of Christianity in our public schools was eliminated, violence has increased astronomically.
As Christians we are committed to following God’s Word in the matter of our relationship to our government. Our first consideration in seeking answers to this, or any other issue, has to begin by examining what the Bible tells us about how we fit into government regulation. The Old Testament is full of stories of God’s people in conflict with the government. Moses was saved from the Pharaoh when he was hidden in the bulrushes to save him from the Pharaoh’s sentence of death. Daniel spent the night with the lions because he would not obey, Joseph went to jail even though he was innocent, and the apostles when told that they could not preach about Jesus said they had to obey God rather than man. At the same time Romans 13:1-3 says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.” The dilemma for believers might become, as it did for many Bible characters, do we disobey the government in order to obey God, or do we disobey the commands of God in order to obey the government? In Acts 5, Peter and other followers of Christ were brought into court after being told not to preach in the name of Jesus. Peter’s response as it relates to being told not to preach in the name of Jesus was, “We must obey God rather than man.” Following the recent shooting in Parkland, every public official who spoke called for people to pray for their school, their students, and the families of those who had suffered the loss of a child, ironically an act forbidden in the very classrooms where faculty and students had lost their lives.
Many years ago, Wallis C. Metts talked about the dilemma of Christians in a country which was fast moving away from its Christian heritage in his book, Your Faith on Trial. He said, “When rulers are unlawful, they come under the condemnation of God as surely as anyone else. If America has a Christian heritage that is worth protecting, if she has religious freedom worth preserving, what then are we to do? Are the people of God merely to turn it over to the forces of atheism and humanism, or are they to fight to preserve religious freedom.” The founder of the Christian Law Association David Gibbs Sr. said, “Each time a Christian ministry or leader has to defend his convictions in court, it is not just that individual who has gone on trial. It is the faith and future of every believer in America.” The leaders of America today, in both political parties, have compromised the vision of our Founding Fathers and seem to be so intent on limiting the Biblical heritage our government was founded upon, that those who would defend those truths are finding themselves on the wrong side of civil law.
None of us want to think about going to jail, facing fines or any other punitive action for violating the laws of our land. Most of us just want to be prepared for our daily responsibilities, provide for our families, and be a witness for Jesus. We don’t want to add in a new category to our lives which includes persecution. But what if our political leaders are taking us on a path which will result in the destruction of this nation and the religious freedoms which we hold so dear? In Ezekiel God said, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD.” I have always thought of myself as someone who loves this country. I now believe we are facing a time when our choice to obey God rather than men, may lead to hardship like we have never seen before. The words of Isaiah are given to us for such a time. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3.
May we be willing to take a stand no matter what it takes, fully knowing that our God is with us no matter where all of this may lead.