Civil Disobedience Considered

When do you obey the government? And when do you choose not to obey?  I’m not going to answer that today. I am, however, wanting to get you thinking, because thinking is what wise people do when confusion is the alternative.

Certainly, in confusing times, there will be different opinions, but a wise person pursuing God’s Word under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, will be light-years ahead of the person who reacts according to self-centered desires. Certainly, Christians faced differences of opinion regarding which days to celebrate and what foods to eat (Romans 14). Certainly, Paul chose to not eat meat if it would cause his brother to stumble (1 Cor. 8:13). But what about today?

I’ve been impressed with the orderliness of those who are protesting government orders to stay home. Yes, there has been an uptick in burglaries in various communities across the country, but not as might be anticipated, considering how desperate many people are becoming. I’ve been impressed with the voices presented and the rational means of gathering to voice a collective opinion. At what point should people act with civil disobedience?

First, I’m not advocating civil disobedience…at this time. That time may be here for some, and may be here for others, but each must make that decision according to his conscience, even as Dietrich Bonhoeffer did in Nazi Germany.

In 1934 Bonhoeffer was already promoting to Germany, that citizens were responsible “to” the state, but also “for” the state. This was his concept of two kingdoms (also discussed by Martin Luther). Citizens were to obey the government, but also ensure justice in/within the government functioned under God’s sovereign authority.

Most of us are well aware of Romans 13, regarding God’s establishment of governing authority. Paul wrote, “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.” (Rom 13:1)  We are still allowed to study God’s Word, evangelize the lost and disciple anyone who desires to pursue the Lord Jesus. But when does a Christian not follow this passage.  After all, Paul continued, “Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. (Rom 13:2)  Defying the government may be defiance against God.

Additionally, Paul states that rulers are there for our good. He stated, “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.” (Rom 13:3) So, the government is there to serve the people’s interest of life and good works. But that doesn’t mean every government is righteous as Bonhoeffer resisted the rise of Hitler’s regime. Even Paul stated, “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. (Rom 13:4)  Government is God’s minister to you for good.  But when the “good” becomes “bad,” then somewhere along the “line of decision” or continuum, a Christian will have to decide. Christians would have to decide, like the Jewish midwives did in Moses’ dayof Exodus 1:15-17,

15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah;  16 and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.”  17 But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. (Exod. 1:15-17)

Not only did they defy the order of the sovereign leader of Egypt, but they made up a story for their actions,

18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?” 19 And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.”  20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty.  21 And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.  (Ex 1:18-21)

For the midwives, life was more important under God’s administration than obedience to the Pharoah.

Another easy example is in Acts 5, where Peter clearly identifies obedience to God, not men. The writer of Acts 5, Luke, wrote,

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them,  28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”  29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. (Act 5:27-29)

So when the issue is life or the gospel, the choice is clear.  Let each one be convinced in his own conscience. But what about other issues, like school mandated curriculum? Are parents not responsible for that (Ephesians 6:1-4)? Or what about firearm bans? Is a man not responsible to protect his family? Is the man not responsible to provide for his family as he deems necessary (1 Tim. 5:8)?

I don’t have any of the desperation of many who are out of work, because I have a job. I’m blessed. How do you decide what is right and how do you decide when the government has crossed the line? That line may seem different for people, but there is a line that is evident from Scripture and every Bible-believing, God-honoring, other-centered serving, freedom-loving, Christian, under the wisdom of the Holy Spirit has to decide when to stand up and be counted.

Are we denied from openly worshipping the Lord Jesus? I don’t see any prohibition from our president’s administration. Are we denied our right to protect our homes? I don’t see any prohibition from our president’s administration. Are we denied the right to evangelize? Or the right to teach our children as we see fit? Or to disciple as must? I don’t see any prohibition from our president’s administration. On the contrary, however, there are opposing forces within our government that would like to oppose some of those passionate desires. Furthermore, there are opposing forces within the government preventing people from work and that is being addressed. What is the best way to address those issues? Just like the resistance in Germany through the 1930s and 1940s, there are different views and each must decide before God what is best under the guidance of the God’s Word and God’s Spirit.

Many writers of the German resistance disagreed with the manner and vocalization of resistance against Nazi Germany, but most concede they would not, themselves, have known precisely what to do.

Let me close with this…In a widely known account at the end of Bonhoeffer’s life, he recounts for us:

During one of their daily walks around the prison yard in Tegel [prison] Dietrich Bonhoeffer was asked by a fellow-prisoner how as a Christian and a theologian he could take it upon himself to participate in the active resistance against Hitler. In the brief time given him under the eyes of the warders, he answered with a story. If he, as a pastor, saw a drunken driver racing at high speed down the Kurfursendamm, he did not consider it his only duty to bury the victims of the madman, or to comfort his relatives, it was more important to wrench the wheel out of the hands of the drunkard.

Know that I will pray for you as you pray for me and we’ll stand together. Thanks for passing it on.



Freedom and Serving

One day, those who trust in the precious blood of Christ shed for the world will be free from all sorrow and tears. We will have freedom and liberty unknown even now. We will be free to worship the Lord Jesus without constraints, personal or corporate. He will be exalted forever and ever.

Yet, today, the wickedness of this coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on many lives, especially first responders and health care providers.  Some in our midst are demanding their right to live the way they want. They are demanding to go where they want, to assemble as they want and to carry on as they would want.

I WANT that for everyone! It would seem we are guaranteed that. But if my freedom endangers others, then I should restrict myself for the sake of others. I should restrict myself, so as not to endanger first responders and health care providers or others. If I am foolish, then I should not cause others to be put in the position of endangerment.

My challenge is, if I demand my freedom to live the way I want, will I live and love others thinking more highly of them than myself?  Paul wrote, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Phi 2:3-4)  If I don’t even know if I’m carrying a virus (asymptomatic), then how should I relate to vulnerable people (which we are now learning is just about everyone)?

Again Paul wrote, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (Gal 5:13-16) Do I have liberty in Christ to do as I want OR as would best be serving (loving) other people. That would include all people, especially, the household of God.  Am I truly loving others as commanded (Matt 22:37-39)?

I know the issue many are making is government intrusion into my/our life/lives. I don’t want the government to cross the line – EVER! Yet, our government was established for a morally righteous people. So, what do the current actions of people say for those who gather and unknowingly spread the virus? Would they be considered wise? Would they be considered as loving others as commanded?

Look at these passages! The issue is not my right, but how do I serve others? The issue is humbling myself for the sake of others.

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (Rom 12:10)

…submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Eph 5:21)

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet 5:5 )

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. (Rom 14:19-22)

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, (Eph 4:1-2)

Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. (1 Cor 10:24 )

Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (1 Cor 10:32-33)

No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Cor 12:22-26)

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; (1 Cor 13:4-5)

I know a huge danger is shutting down businesses. AND how will those businesses get going. AND people are likely going to suffer because of not having a job. AND people are going to lose their homes. We are on uncharted waters. I’m not sure government should be in the role of shutting down businesses. Considering how little we knew about this virus and considering how little people were “restricting themselves for the sake of others,” and considering we are lovers of self rather than lovers of others, I wonder what the numbers would be if guidance was not put out?

I’m not casting stones. I’m not sure of the best way to give business freedom to operate. I’m just asking that we apply God’s Word to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who said, “”For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mar 10:45)

Free Enterprise Death: Country

Free Enterprise is reported to be declining. Breibart reports that since 2008 the number of startup companies lags behind the number of companies closing.1 That IS significant, because without Free Enterprise, Socialism will gain greater power. Socialism is a cooperative system of production, management and distribution by the government. It controls the provision for citizens according to its own rules. Free Enterprise is the initiative of citizens who take the risk to compete for a market share and trusting something other than government – it may be themselves, but many times it is people trusting the grace and mercy of the Lord’s blessing.

Free Enterprise is being choked out by the governmental rules and regulations. Today, there are so many rules protecting the worker that the employer loses hope in a profit. There are, however, many greedy Free Enterprise leaders who are far more concerned for themselves than the workers. While that may be selfishness on their part, it’s far better than government control. That has given great ammunition to Socialists to regulate Free Enterprise.

The death of Free Enterprise would continue to change America for the worse. Yet many American citizens want a handout rather than work for what they need. Therefore they turn directly or indirectly rely upon the government for provisions. The problem is man trusting in man rather than the Lord, “Thus says the LORD,

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD. 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. (Jer. 17:5-7 NKJ)

There is one solution and that is trusting the Lord’s blessing and mercy. I salute all who take the risk to start their own business. May they trust in the Lord, seeking His will, and waiting upon His blessing.

1 accessed on January 14, 2015.

War on Poverty Man’s Way

            In 1965 Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty when 15% of America was under the “poverty” level.  His “deal” became a raw deal, because man will never solve his problems without the Grace of God.  We now spend 668 billion dollars per year on 126 programs.  We are still at the same level of poverty of 15%. God is not a part of the program. If you leave God out of any solution, you’ll have a temporary fix at best and a deceitful money pit of misery at worst.

            When a repentant woman came into a dinner engagement and anointed Jesus’ head with a very costly oil of spikenard, the indignant criticized her for this seemingly waste of resources.  Jesus told them to leave her alone and then said, “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.”  (Mark 14:7)  Jesus didn’t say, don’t help the poor, but you may do them good.  He also said they would always be with you.  In other words, we ought to do good by helping, but always in the name of Jesus, so Jesus is the reason for our help to them and they know the reason for the help they receive.  But we should also know that money and resources in themselves are not the solution to poverty as the raw deal has shown.

            Am I against the support the poor receive from the government?  Not really.  I believe the church should be the source of help, but the church is at a point, where it can hardly take care of its own.  Unfortunately, the government welfare level of support has risen 41% in the last three years alone, an astronomical figure and still there is no change to godliness or upward mobility of the poor.  The only true answer is a change of heart and seeking after God’s way.  Money has become one of the “gods of this age.”  People think money will solve theirs and the world’s problems.  It never will and never was meant to solve problems.

            What we can do is reach out to the poor through intentional outreach.  Grace does that through Servant’s Heart, individual ministries and the newly formed Outreach Ministry Team. Who can you tell about your relationship with Jesus Christ?