January 17, 2019

What about ungodly leaders?

A great deal of confusion exists over the idea of the separation of church and state. Laws concerning this issue were enacted to protect the church from government interference. That is, the church was not to be a political entity or tool for political manipulation and gave freedom to believe and practice to all.

However, many suppose this means that those who are Christian should have no say in politics, particularly if their religion affects the lives of those without faith. That is, the church should stay out of government and political issues. I’ve heard a few opinions that declare Christians have no business being involved at all because their faith is going to “ruin” things.  (Link to Helpful article)

In the time of the New Testament, Roman rule prevailed, but the Jews were ruled directly by their own high priest and his cohorts in the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. That is, the government took care of one part of life and the high priests ruled religious matters, another part of life. The high priests mentioned are Annas, the high priest emeritus, who was father-in-law to Caiaphas, the ruling high priest at the time of the trial of Christ.

So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people. (John 18:12–14)

Their efforts to destroy Jesus Christ and be rid of those who believed in Him failed. After His death and resurrection, the disciples began preaching the Gospel . . .

But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. (Acts 4:4–11)

The boldness of Peter and John convinced these religious leaders that these uneducated, ordinary men had been with Jesus. They saw a man healed and could not refute what was happening, so decided to warn the disciples by charging them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:13–20)

Later, Paul was sharing Christ and the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” He was rebuked for speaking against God’s high priest and respectfully replied, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” (Acts 23:2–5)

It is my observation many think religion is okay if it is kept in that compartment. Christianity creates a problem with compartments. Faith in Christ is not about ‘church on Sunday and do whatever you please the rest of the week.’ It is about a changed life, a renewed mind and attitude that affects every area of life. It is about justice, mercy, treating others with godly love and righteousness without being respecters of persons. Put a person like that into politics, where the biggest concern is often about power, and that person or anyone who speak the truth from God is a threat to those who refuse to listen to God and want their own way.

Jesus, Your Word tells me to respect and obey those in authority and pray for them. If I am called to speak up, I need the power of the Holy Spirit to do it in a godly manner. Your Word levels humanity and some of the powers that exist do not want that good news to be heard. Grant Your people the grace to relate to authority with a biblical attitude, praying and speaking the truth in love and with great wisdom and courage.

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