"What Party Are You?" - Joey Ferrell (repost from 10/2013)

What party do you belong to?

Democrat, conservative, republican, independent, liberal, tea, green, patriot....all buzz words revolving around our government system in the United States.  

Have you ever thought about what “party” you truly belong to?  

    Way back in the Old Testament times, several thousand years ago, the leadership of the nations was put into place through a pattern of judges that were appointed.  In Deuteronomy 16:18, this is very evident when we read “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment.”  As can be seen here in this command, God wanted a certain form of “government” in place.

    We see some of this same perspective in 2 Chronicles 19:5 in text stating “Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city...”  Then, we can read about those that were just in the Lord, and those that were not so just throughout the book of Judges.

    Why should this even be considered?  Simply put, because the people did not like the original plan of governing, if you will, that God had put into play.  So, did they overrule God?  Not really.  Watch what is told to us about this very sad change of God’s design.  

    “Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.” So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”” (1 Samuel 8:1–18, NKJV)

    What a very sad thought indeed.  God’s plan for His children was changed forever.  They would never have a “judge” that was judging for them, but they would bow down now to an earthly king, hence becoming the king’s servants as is told in 1 Samuel 8.

    Fast forward to Daniel’s book of prophecy in which we start this early reading in chapter 2, where Daniel writes “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.” (Daniel 2:21, NKJV)  So, not only did God allow this change to happen, but this clearly shows that He was in charge of all governing rulers in the kings.  He would remove many kings, and He would raise up many kings, just as Daniel wrote.  

    We see some of these particular kings in the lives of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar (his son).  God dealt with these kings fairly based on the way that they treated God’s people.  He gave out discipline to them directly and we see the results in the writings of the Old Testament, and we have the records of their kingships to learn from and to be able to see that God continues to be justified in His actions.

    So, what does this have to do with us today?  It is quite simple really.  While these “bad” kings of the former years ended up causing a lot of death, hardship, and suffering; they were still “put in place” by God, our Father because the people asked for this to take place.  

    Today, we sort of live under a similar situation.  When the United States of America became “independent” from other governing bodies in the world (queens, kings, rulers, etc.), our forefathers chose to implement a form of government that still exists in its basis and principal over 200 years later.  Sure, there have been some changes, some practices put into place in order to have organization if you will in our government, and human interaction of authority, power, and leadership.

    Each passing day it seems that America gets angrier and angrier with the decisions of our governing body.  There are many decisions that are made that to many do not seem to make much sense at all, yet, these are the people that our majority has elected and placed into these roles.  Who is to blame?  Is it God’s fault for allowing such to take place?  Is it man’s fault for not voting with a better sense of mind than to side with just a party as mentioned in the title?  Is it the leaders’ faults for not following some of the core principles that they ran on either platform or campaign promises given during their running?  Maybe it is our forefathers’ fault for not “thinking” that it would come to this stage in the future?

    Regardless of where anyone wants to “lay blame,” we all live under the same government in this country.  So, what does that mean?

    Well, it is actually kind of deep.  What does this mean?  Let’s take a look at some Biblical passages that relate to government and our responsibilities as a Christian both to this government and to God.

    Remember when Jesus was questioned about paying taxes?  Remember His answer?  He takes a coin and asks whose image is on that coin.  Of course it was Caesar’s.  And what did our Lord say?  “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s”.  Jesus is referring to the image that is placed on the coin.  It makes sense for us to remember back in Genesis where God says “Let us make man in our own image” with this in mind doesn’t it?  So, if we are made in God’s own image, then we are truly God’s in perspective. (Matt 22)

    Why would Jesus render anything unto Caesar.  He is God in the flesh!  He has all the power to be in full power over Caesar, call ten-thousand angels, or even rain fire down upon all of those that were in leadership.  But He didn’t do any of these things.  Why?

    Christ was showing us the subjection unto the leadership that was in charge.  After all, remember that under the law, God already displayed that He was in charge when it came to leaders.  Now, Jesus was showing the subjection to His earthly leaders, and this writer submits that we should always do the same, as long as their laws do not conflict with the laws of God (c.f .Acts 5).

    Shall we still be honoring to our leaders today?  With the writings of Paul in both Romans and 1 Timothy, it is evident that governing leaders are to have respect and honor according to the scriptures.  While we may not agree with everything that is discussed, voted upon, put into place, and so on, it is still our respective duty as a Christian (letter to Romans written to believing body) to obey, honor, and respect the position that our leaders are in. Paul clearly outlines this for us in Romans 13:1-7:

    “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” (Romans 13:1–7, NKJV)

    When he addresses young Timothy in subject to authority in 1 Tim 2:1-3, the apostle Paul also tells him and those that he will teach to live a peaceable life giving thanks for all men, including those kings and ones in authority.  Keep in mind that these kings are some of the same leaders that had been persecuting Christians, even unto death!

    “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,” (1 Timothy 2:1–3, NKJV)

    We must also remember the very words of Christ on the cross when he said “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”  Christ was addressing all of those that had put Him to death on the cross when making this statement.  He did not signify common man from leaders, and so on.

    In other thoughts, Luke records Paul’s travels in the book of Acts in which Paul finds himself talking to various leaders, all the way up to Caesar.  We never see Paul being dishonorable to those leaders in text or in context.  He does challenge a few of them, but in good terms.  The writer of Hebrews also gives us a little nugget of direction in Hebrews 13:17 when he states “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17, NKJV)

    Now that we have looked at some of the key passages telling us what to do in regards to our government and leaders, we should also submit to the understanding that these leaders are also souls; and those souls certainly need praying for.  No matter what their decisions are, how they affect each person, how much hatred is shown for their party, their actions, their ways, or their decisions, it is the Christian’s responsibility to pray for them.  Galatians 6:1-2 tells us that we are to go to those that stumble and to address their sin directly with them.  There is no doubt that there are Christian men and women in the leadership of our country in some ranks of government.  Instead of seeking some sort of vengeance, let’s all pray for them to repent if they have sinned in God’s eyes, and let’s try to help them get to heaven...after all, isn’t that the ultimate goal?

    So, what party are you?  Republican?  Democrat?  Green?  Independent?  Patriot?  Liberty?  Tea?  Libertarian?  Do you feel you are conservative?  How about liberal?  How about just plain sick and tired of it all? (Best answer of them all)

    I am a Christian!  I claim alliance with Jesus Christ.  I will be subject to my leaders in all things that do not conflict with God’s laws or God’s will.  I will teach the truth until law says that I cannot, then I will illegally teach the truth under the obligation from God.  I will pay my taxes, rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar; but, I will live my life in accordance with these passages that are so evident in the Holy Bible telling me to be subject, honor, and pray for my leaders - because that is what God wants me to do!  After all, don’t we all want to save souls?  That is why Jesus died.  John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world...” Did you catch that?  He loved the world!  All of it!  Every soul!  He didn’t specify Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, leader nor constituent.  Every soul has the same opportunity as each of us do.  Let’s try to show the world how much that Jesus wants to save their souls!  Let’s quit thinking about us versus them, party 1 versus party 2, republican versus democrat, president versus man.  Let’s all focus on God, teach the Gospel to all creatures and overcome the world by converting the lost and being faithful all of our lives.

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:13–17, NKJV)

Joey Ferrell

October 17, 2013