The Role of Government

I'm reading a book a friend recommended, The Myth of a Christian Nation. There are parts I like and parts I don't like, but one very postitive thing it is doing is forcing me to examine my view of government.

A key passage for many people when they think about government is Romans 13:1-6:

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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Many conclusions can be drawn from this passage. What I am intriged by is the short phrase buried in the middle: "God's servant for your good."

This is a new perspective for me. Yes, I understand I must pay my taxes. Yes, I know I should be respectful. Yes, governements have the power of the "sword" to enforce laws. But to call the people who are granted authority within a govenment God's "servant" and to understand that their primary task is my good, our good, that is a high view of government indeed!

This view also has some clear implications for us, the “governed.” The first is respect for the ideals a government, any government, is called to and should be moving towards. But the second, as far as possible, is to hold our government accountable to this high calling. In some cases, the only wise task may be to pray, but other times, there may be other steps we can take.
9/8/2014 8:29:51 AM

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