Dean William R. Inge is credited with saying, “A good government remains the greatest of human blessings, and no nation has ever enjoyed it.” Just to clarify, it would seem that the human blessings he refers to are of human origin and therefore flawed. They are the result of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Flawed people devise flawed governments that we, the citizenry, are the beneficiaries thereof.
What should be our attitude and posture toward the civil authorities that occupy public office above us? Only about 20% of Americans, according to Pew Research Center, trust our government to do the right thing most of the time. That means that the other 80% are somewhat to very skeptical of our leadership. It is not at all uncommon to hear and see evidence of open hatred toward those of the opposing political party in leadership — which ever one it may be – at any given time.
Where do God-believers fit into this environment? The short answer is that they do not. Solomon wrote, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25). Those who fear what our leaders might do are easily drawn into hatred and the radical impulses and leanings of so many today. On the other hand, the reverent fear of God is where safety and sound mindedness will be found in turbulent times.
God’s expectations of His saints in these matters almost sound unearthly, simply because they are. Here are the Apostle Paul’s strong words, “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” (1 Timothy 2:1–2). The faithful don’t rant and rave over the corruption or injustice they can see because they know their God is the supreme authority in the universe. Whether those in authority rule well or are completely corrupt, we can pray for God’s blessing on them for whatever it is they need most. That is something that covers a vast realm. Will we do the faithful and unearthly thing?
It is God who appoints whomever He will to power according to what is needed most. Through God, the Apostle Paul makes it crystal clear. “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” (Romans 13:1–2). Even if the authority is corrupt or off track, we don’t resist it. Before Christ’s death, Pilate reminded Him that he had power to crucify Him. Jesus, likewise, reminded Pilate that he wouldn’t have any power at all if it weren’t given to him from above. Our Father appoints whom He will based on what is most needed: spiritual/physical blessings or spiritual/physical cursings. It all plays into the unfolding of God’s great plan of salvation for mankind.
So, we pray for God’s will to be done through those whom He allows to come to power, and we also pray for the safety of His people in the process of it all. The point of it all is that we don’t take our eyes off our God at any time, just as the faithful before us. We submit to the civil authority over us now as we the eagerly await the true blessing of God’s government to come!