(This is the ninth in a series of studies entitled: "Was Jesus a Liberal?")
Jesus was not a revolutionary—at least in a political sense. He believed in the rule of law. He believed in capital punishment for criminals—because He was the One who instituted it! (See Gen. 9:6). And in Romans 13, the Apostle Paul teaches us that government’s main purpose is punishment of evildoers. “Rulers are God’s ministers to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain.” (Rom. 13:4). So, Jesus believed that human government exists for the protection of the people, not for welfare programs. He did not believe His mission was to eradicate poverty, because He said: “The poor you will always have with you” (Matt. 26:11). The Old Testament reminds us that the “poor shall never cease out of the land” (See Deut. 15:11 and Zeph. 3:12).
The Bible clearly teaches it is the responsibility of families and the Church to care for those with benevolent needs. God never intended the government to be in the business of welfare. Through the Apostle Paul, the Lord tells us that “if a man will not work, neither shall he eat” (II Thes. 3:10). Liberals believe in an expanded role of government, while conservatives believe in limited government. The New Testament most assuredly pictures a more conservative view of government’s role.
Now, as to the citizen’s responsibilities to the government authority, the Scriptures are crystal clear. Basically, there are three responsibilities we have in relation to our elected political leaders:
First, the Bible commands us to obey those who are in authority over us. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1). “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1). The word authorities can also be rendered “magistrates”, and this would include, not just our elected political rulers, but policemen and all who are charged with enforcing the laws of the land. The only exception, biblically, to this command, is when Christians are forced to go against their deeply held religious convictions. If the government ever starts telling us how to raise our children, or starts telling churches what they can or cannot preach, or forcing ministers to perform gay marriages, or forcing nurses to assist in performing abortions, then we say with the Apostle Peter: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Second, the Bible commands us to honor those who are in authority over us. We don’t have to like our President, but we have to honor him. We don’t have to support his policies, but we have to respect his office, and his God-ordained position. Government rulers are “ordained of God”, whether we like it or not. “The powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1). Any time a President is elected whom I did not vote for, I remind myself of this biblical truth—he is there because God ordained it. And therefore I owe him my respect. “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Rom. 13:7). What disturbs me the most about our current political climate is the venomous hatred, animosity, and disrespect being shown towards our President. The left wing liberals of America still have not accepted the fact that they lost the 2016 election and now need to respect his office whether they like him and his policies or not.
And third, the Bible commands us to pray for all those who are in authority over us. “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 might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (I Tim. 2:1). Christians need to stop complaining, and stop criticizing, and start praying. That applies to our President, our Pastor, and our boss at work. Our country would be much better off if people would pray for their President, just as commanded in God’s Word.