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.



The Silence of God

Today, we ponder the silence of God. [At least to us (Jesus was actually making a triumphal pronouncement in Tartarus (1 Pet 3:18-20; 2 Pet 2:4)]

In the history of the disciples 2000 years ago, they had THE most discouraging day of their lives. They had spent several years with the Man they thought was the Messiah. He had said and done all the right things. They even watched the triumphal procession into Jerusalem just a few days before. The contact with the religious leaders of the Passover week was a crescendo.  It was only a matter of moments in their view and He would reveal Himself as the Messiah to the world and they would be in on the Greatest Reversal of all time – the Jewish people under the thumb of Rome, paying taxes to Rome and giving allegiance to Rome – would be reversed!.  Now was “their” moment when all of that would be changed!.  The Romans would recognize Jesus as Messiah and they were in on the “ground floor”!

But then tragedy. Their hopes were dashed. Their leader was crucified the most heinous of deaths. Their adrenaline took a deep dive. Temporary depression set in. They were bewildered. “What happened?”

Has that ever happened to you?

On Saturday, the disciples would likely have been wondering, “What just happened? What do we do now? We left everything and the very thing we were hoping for, counting on and trusting in…was gone!”

Has that ever happened to you?

Indeed, God was silent to them. Sometimes God intentionally is silent, because He wants us to be silent. To meditate on the promises of God, the power of God and the presence of God, even when we can’t see it, experience it and to know we need to remember them.

The Sons of Korah wrote, Psalm 46. Verse ten says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Ps 46:10)”  IN FACT, the rest of the Psalm is incredible for this day.

As you ponder anew the silence of God, and maybe you are experiencing the silence of God, consider what happened in just one more day 2000 years ago.  The Silence of God means He is ready and able to do a truly Great Reversal!


Our hope is in Him! Always!

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)

Insights: Coronovirus March 22, 2020

David wrote a comforting Psalm, when he was captured by the Philistines in Gath and  was tempted to be afraid:

2 My enemies would hound me all day, For there are many who fight against me, O Most High.
3 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
4 In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? (Ps. 56:2-4 NKJ)

I like the acrostic about fear. Fear is – False Evidence Appearing Real.  The temptation of fear is there, but the overwhelming character of God helps me see my fear for what it is: Satan’s temptation to put my eyes on the current situation, rather than God’s eternal character.

Be like David – trust in the Lord – even if you come down with the symptoms of coronovirus or the virus itself. God is not caught off guard and He will sustain you, even if you are in the grasps of the virus’ pull. We will trust in the Lord!