this law and that law
i got to thinking the other day about how we as Christians are to uphold both God’s law and earthly laws (as long as they don’t contradict the former), and that get-to thinking got me thinking about exactly why we do so and where exactly it says so, as such thoughts have rarely occurred to me (only thing i could think of was “give to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s, and that isn’t always clear). here’s what i came up with.
1. people in authority are placed by God
David had a tough time being appointed as king of Israel. even after being forgotten by Saul, picked last by Samuel, being attacked by Saul and consequently pursued throughout the known ancient world, he still had to wait to “take office.” even when he was presented with two golden opportunities to kill Saul and take his “rightful” place, David refused to murder “God’s anointed.” despite constantly having to hide from the man that held the position God himself elected David to, David gives the authority all up to God. this may not have too much relevance to us, but it should remind us the same still goes for modern-day rulers. despite some beliefs and policies our politicians might hold to, they are in power because God allowed them to be, and we should treat and think of them as such. i know you could say that God didn’t let it happen, but we did (thank you Will Smith), but that’s a discussion for another time. let me just say God didn’t give you sole authority to put them in power, so why would he do the same for you to take them out? (not that i assume anyone reading this is a potential assassin, but you get my point)
2. following laws removes all doubt when we are persecuted for our faith
again, this is not entirely relevant, as extensive Christian persecution is rare in America, but it can carry some consequence for believers in our country. and i’m not ruling out that some of us may encounter this type of situation. the only thing we have to remember, though, is that being persecuted for our faith is counted as glory in the Kingdom of God, not only to God, but to ourselves. so it makes sense that if persecution should come to us, then we should be considered blameless in other matters, so that people will know what the reason is for our suffering and glorify God. as Peter says in the fourth chapter of his first letter, “let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” he continues to say that our suffering should be as Christians, and that we should glorify God as a result.
3. people will recognize when you obey both God and man
when Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he was really mad. one of the main reasons for his anger was that the church was allowing a man to live with his father’s wife, an atrocity not even acceptable to “the pagans.” what does it say about Christians when we won’t even behave according to the standards of the nonbelievers around us? how bad does it look when we are trying to share our faith, yet won’t even follow the basic laws of our governing body? (hypothetical: “here’s some good Christian music i burned off of LimeWire for you.”–what?) as evangelists in a lost world, it makes no sense to appear as lost as those we are trying to reach. as Francis Schaeffer said, this is “no age to fall into the same thought-form of duality without realizing it.” i tell you this much: until we learn to follow the laws of man permitted by the Law of God, we cannot be a city on a hill.
4. following both God’s and man’s law often looks the same.
one of the most overlooked statements of the Bible is probably the one that comes at the end of the famous Fruits of the Spirit–“against such things there is no law.” have you ever thought about that? the core, fundamental qualities of the Spirit cannot be condemned by man’s law. save perhaps a few countries outside our own, doing these things prompted by the Spirit is perfectly allowable. in the US, there is no way love, joy, peace, etc. are punishable by law, but in many cases the opposite is true. as man is made in the image of God, including the aspect of morals, these rules enacted by our governing bodies reflect those given by God way back when in the Ten Commandments. these truths we hold on to are true for everybody.