On Being Civilly Obedient, or How I Learned to Turn Off the Political Pundits and Love the Government.
It’s amazing what a good class on the Book of Concord can remind you of, and teach you, in a 57-minute class.
We were reviewing Article XVI of the Augsburg Confession, and discussing who grants the government authority, and who gives the government to us. And, oddly enough, the answer is quite clear.
Government is from the Lord. Not the individual politicians mind you (although we are all God’s children), but the role of government is God-given as the authority over our lives, the protector of our society, and the institution that God established.
What a difficult concept to comprehend! Our government, made up of the sinful humans (as we are all well aware of many days) who make decisions that drive us crazy and make us question our sanity for electing them, is a blessing for which we should be thankful.
It is an American right to decide on the direction and purpose of our government, and to choose those who would lead us. It is NOT our Christian right to criticize, denigrate, and hate our politicians. As much as politics can upset and frustrate us, we are not to look down upon or disrespect those in authority. The meaning of the Fourth Commandment in Luther’s Small Catechism says it well, “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.”
Can you say that you cherish the President, or Congress, or the police officer by whom you were caught speeding?
It is true that God commands us to follow Him first, and to submit to authority when it does not conflict with His commands. But how many times do we use that argument to speak poorly about the members of our government? Political pundits on television, radio, and the Internet skirt, bump, and sometimes run over with a Mack trunk the Fourth and, many times, the Eighth Commandment. Have you? Is it regular water-cooler discussion for you at the office, when you are with friends or family?
Always remember to pray for those in authority, who make the difficult decisions when leading us, for the families of those who serve us, and for ourselves that we may be loving and patient with them, and that we may cherish them in their God-given duty.
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-3
“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