This is the second post in a series about being children of God and how that informs our various roles as women. Read all of the posts in the series here.
We are citizens of earth and heaven; our citizenship in heaven informs ours on earth. We are a part of a representative form of government here, and, so, we participate in it with a stewardship role. We form opinions about what is happening and what ought to be happening. And we also see many needs around us, and wonder how to approach them, what to think about them, and what to do about them.
Citizen Here, Citizen There
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mk. 12:17)—here, Jesus communicates to me that I am to be a good citizen (c.f. Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). I pay taxes; I don’t neglect them. I take part in our government by thinking, considering what is happening in this world and country, by comparing it with Scripture, by voting, and by submitting notes to my local elected officials. I seek to abide by laws inasmuch as they do not violate my faith, which, thankfully so far, they have not (Rom. 13:1). I do not consider myself to be above accountability to the laws of this present land on the basis of belonging to a better, heavenly country; abiding by its laws is a matter of personal integrity—something to do as for the Lord.
Yet, God’s ultimate plan for this world will not be initiated via human government. I see this truth engrained throughout the Bible, such that ultimately, when people look to the government to give them what they want, it will bring them the Antichrist, the tribulation, and all that entails (1 Thess. 5:3).
Christ has called us who believe His church and has given us His mission for this world. He gave His people mission as a part of who we are on this earth (Matt. 18:16-20). This is God’s present “plan for change:” spiritual rebirth through the blood of Christ for all who believe, the giving of a heavenly citizenship to a people remade to be concerned more with the forever lasting world to come than the fleeting present one. We have mission in our souls—mission to share this message at present because we know the eternal realities; we know about souls, death, hell, life, lostness, and salvation.
Proceeding from that understanding, there are a few things we must do. We must maintain that this earthly government is not what we are looking for, and not what others are looking for. We must maintain a notion that the government will never give us what we want until King Jesus is on the throne, and we finally abide under His rule. We must maintain a notion that we have the personal responsibility to share the salvation of Christ, praying for others’ eternal citizenship. We must maintain a belief that peace and justice will not reign on this earth until Christ returns to execute judgment and usher in His reign. We must maintain the perspective that our priority is about the kind of riches God gives (Rev. 2:9) and not be shortsighted. We must hold that our help comes from Christ and from the church who, because we have the most important part of our lives in common, love each other genuinely for His sake.
Every election gives us opportunity to ask an important question: are we placing our hope for social change, moral change, justice, peace, etc. in the government or in Christ?
Do you know how I want to see abortion eliminated from the permissive laws of this land? I do want those who are Christians in government to think about those who are killed each and every day and to do their part to fight for image-bearing lives. When the law of the land is in favor of abortion, we ask God that this will change. And if, as a fruit of our lives, in His sovereign plans, we are called to participate in government, and be a part of making this happen, then we certainly do it.
Some will have more interaction with the government than others. God distributes power, and arranges circumstances as He sees fit. I think of Esther or Daniel, involved with the government by His providence with opportunity and power to represent God well, reflecting His character. The call on each of our lives is different; our proximity to government is different—we do well to follow God in His plans for our lives, including if that were to be into public service (1 Tim. 2:1-4; Prov. 14:34; Esth. 10:3). Our lives naturally exhibit Christian fruit wherever God places us. Yet, right now, God has not given me a role in government, beyond being a citizen.
But we can all ask God, as a matter of priority, that many, many people across this country will become born-again Christians so that Christians are the majority population in every state. Thus, the majority of people will see that life starts at conception and vote accordingly—that is how I dearly want to see abortion eliminated.
Not a Government Problem
We may consider the present state of our society and mourn for the lack of God-honoring morality—we are all fallen people so apt to do what is right in our own eyes. We don’t have a government problem. We have a moral problem that has, inevitably, become a government problem. And we have a moral problem because the full gospel has not always taken primacy for us—certainly for us as a whole in this country, and often in my life too, when I forget its urgency.
We don’t abandon the government. But we also don’t put it out of perspective—it is fruit, not our joint mission. We hold a different citizenship, yet we desire that our current country be preserved in its representative state. And we have a desire that this representative government stays intact so that when, prayerfully, the gospel does spread widely again, we will have the ability to re-shape our land to please Him out of the good fruits of our lives with our voting choices and with the representatives we get to send.
That’s why I believe that to vote to preserve our freedoms in this country is a Christian pursuit. I desire, in love, for my neighbors to have free access to the Bible. I desire, in love, for my fellow brother and sisters to be able to live out their faith beautifully in a country that is open for them to do so. I desire, in love, for those who do not yet know Christ to never feel forced into committing their lives to Him. So, if all of that is what I am privileged to be able to vote for as a part of this country—I certainly will. America is a wonderfully unique place, and I am not sure that we see it anymore; I am not sure that I always see it. Seeking, in love for each other, to preserve it in its limited state is my Christian desire, a fruit of my faith, when for Christian purposes.
What does that mean for this election? I will vote in order to be a good steward of this representative form of government; I will vote to preserve our limited form of government; and I will vote for my biblical values. Personally, I still do not yet know who that vote will be for. But I will not take with me to the polls a mission for changing the world. If we care for this country, we must pray that the gospel would become more urgent and the Bible become more loved in our hearts and in our local churches.
As long as the Lord tarries, one thing I believe—He is not calling us to avoid our country, to ignore our country, or to neglect our country, but He is calling us through whatever is ahead. We would do well to cry out for our country’s sins similarly to how Daniel did for his.
“O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.”